Israeli Fashion: The Next Generation

From ancient kimonos to questions of life and death, recent fashion design graduates from across the country share the inspiration behind their year-end projects.

Sea corals, ultra-Orthodox garb and the production of pigment are among the diverse sources of inspiration for this year’s crop of fashion design graduates. A total of 108 students from four schools − the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, the WIZO Bloomfield School of Design and Education, the Seminar Hakibbutzim Teachers College and the Avni Institute of Art and Design − received their bachelor degrees in fashion design. Haaretz highlights the work of 10 graduates who have distinguished themselves in their final design projects that were on display this month, in works that show creative vision, interesting concepts or particularly convincing approaches. Each student shared the inspiration and process behind their work.

Kim Dror, 25, Haifa
“Indigo: Work hard, stay humble”
WIZO Bloomfield School

“The idea for my project began to develop when I did an internship with Jonathan Saunders in London. Saunders, who was trained as a textile designer, works a lot with pigments and color. At the same time, I visited an exhibition of indigo-colored ancient kimonos. When I began researching this pigment, I discovered an entire world. I ordered the pigment from India. I prepared it and only then understood how much work was involved in this.”

Goni Shavit, 28, Givatayim ‏(but originally from Kibbutz Mevo Hama‏)
“Sorry that I arrived”
WIZO Bloomfield School

“Having lived on a kibbutz, I never delved into my family roots. In our family, history was expunged when my grandfather and grandmother came to the kibbutz. They immigrated from Russia and Germany, but to become Israeli, they left their special customs and traditions behind. When faced with my final project, I had a feeling that the time had come to go back. The story of Sallah Shabati [a character in a 1964 film about a Jewish immigrant from an Arab country, the difficulties he faced in adapting to life in Israel and efforts to change his identity] suited me at just that time in my life also because my future husband is Mizrahi [of Middle Eastern Jewish descent] and in his family, family roots are very much present.”

Neta Fried, 29, Kibbutz Ma’aleh Gilboa
“White collar”
WIZO Bloomfield School

“Dealing with collars and the research I conducted on the subject reflects my curiosity about the development of social and professional status. As someone who was educated on a kibbutz, I really only distinguished differentiations in status in our society after I left: this feeling that you have to promote yourself all the time, present yourself in a favorable light. I come from a place that espouses modesty, and there [on kibbutz], if you stand out, it is actually to your detriment.”

Omri Shochat, 30, Jerusalem
“Remnants of thought”
Bezalel Academy

“The project went through a few incarnations until they finally gelled. The point of departure was disassociation, a symptom of an emotional disturbance that causes a momentary disconnect of consciousness, but it was heavy and I didn’t want that, so I changed the mood and decided to construct six sets of clothing for six couples from the past. From that it moved to memory of love and how such memory affects you as a person, and from there, the thought migrated to the elusiveness of memory.”

Inna Levitan, 25, Jerusalem
“Living, growing, not moving”
Bezalel Academy

“In a project prior to my final work, I did research on the question of what causes people to become attached to objects and to develop a relationship with them. I looked at the proximity of people to fabrics, their attraction to certain proportions, and I discovered that the characteristics from nature that we identify in objects can spark our affection for them. And this in essence was the idea for my final project − creating objects that will spur people to sense them and play with them and not just wear them as jewelry.”

Shadi Abed, 23, Jerusalem ‏(originally from the Galilee Arab Christian village of Mi’ilya‏)
“The triangle of life”
Bezalel Academy

“I started to think in depth about the essence of life and death after I experienced the death of my grandfather and grandmother, who died a year apart. Since then, questions surfaced about belief in God, whether I should devote myself to my religion − Christianity − or remain liberal with an open mind. I wanted to express my ambivalence and my internal feelings in my final project. I did research on religions and on ancient cultures and ancient art, and chose to focus on the triangle, a form that has been with us since ancient times and has significance on various levels − artistic, religious and mystical.”

Liat Brandel-Gilon, 24, Tel Aviv
“Imaginary reality”
Shenkar College

“During the course of my studies, I did an internship at Marks & Spencer in London. At the time, I was the only one in the group without an iPhone, and there I understood the major gap between myself and everyone else. It suddenly bothered me a little that we have become a kind of generation that doesn’t experience the moment and deals more with being seen in a setting as much as experiencing it. The delicate transition from two-dimensional to three-dimensional − meaning reality − was my point of departure for the project, and I translated it into elements such as slits or blinds that let you look inside with patterns of pixels or pop-ups and folded paper that give flat surfaces volume.”

Tom Tishbi, 27, Tel Aviv
“Orientalism”
Shenkar College

Tishbi’s final project has its roots in her youth, when she listened for the first time to a Mozart work played by an Egyptian orchestra. That opened a window for her on the tension between the two worlds she loves, between East and West. “I love the points at which the theatrical and bizarre world come together with the rigidity of modernism, the magic of Eastern sensuality and Western couture. In models that I built, I dealt with the boundaries of proximity to the body and becoming distant from it. My primary sources were archival photos of clothing from the 18th and 19th centuries and even pictures from Israel from the beginning of the last century.”

Nachman Chen Ariel, 26, Tel Aviv ‏(originally from Hod Hasharon‏)
“Quiet evolution”
Shenkar College

“The marine world excites me because it is endless, and the connection to the sea has always been with me. My sister is a marine geologist. My grandfather was in the navy. When I started to work on my final project, I researched a coral carving and all kinds of other subjects related to the sea, and they led me ultimately to the underwater sculpture garden of the British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, which simply captivated me. On the theoretical level, I related to the fact that the place of the artist has been changing in modern times since their creations have a new status and some have gradually vanished. As a result, I also integrated ancient handicrafts into my models.”

Maayan Levy, 28, Ramat Gan ‏(originally from Ra’anana‏)
“Filling the void”
Shenkar College

“While looking at blogs about street fashion, I noticed a global fusion that showed that now we all look more or less the same and it is almost impossible to distinguish us by national background. That led me to research my personal sense of belonging, which in my case is to the ultra-Orthodox community. In models that I designed, I integrated motifs from Jewish ultra-Orthodox dress whether in the tailoring and proportions of the clothing or in small details that I borrowed from characteristic clothing or from talitot [ritual prayer shawls] and I gave them a contemporary digital character through the laser cuts or the inclusion of metal such as computer chips. I even wrapped a woman in a talit, which is relevant to today [a reference to the controversy over women wearing prayer shawls at the Western Wall]. It seemed like a nice subject to me.”
 

Ilya Melnikov