Israeli Fashion House Maskit Stays in the Comfort Zone

Sahar Shalev
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From Maskit’s 2015 Winter Collection.Credit: Goran Ljubuncic
Sahar Shalev

The second collection from the revived Maskit fashion label was highly anticipated. After the first collection, which was a tribute to the legendary fashion house and was comprised largely of classics (presented during Gindi TLV Fashion Week last March), it was time for designer Sharon Tal to outline a new path for Maskit and put her own imprint on the historic label.

But Tal appears to be treading very cautiously. The new collection took off when Shlomo Saranga, son of the late pottery designer Batya Saranga (who once worked with Maskit), brought Tal a box filled with ceramic stones his mother had designed for the fashion house but never delivered. The ceramic pieces, including some that were meant to be used in pins or necklaces, became the missing link in Maskit’s new path and served as inspiration for the new collection, along with works by the painter Mark Rothko, which echoed the color and smears of paint on the stones.

In Tal’s hands, Saranga’s stones became enamel-coated metal pieces interwoven in the clothes, to which she added embroidery and other decoration, such as unique combinations of satin and beading. The resulting geometric or floral shapes, all impressively handcrafted, became a major focus of many of the items in the collection.

As befits a fashion house with a legacy like Maskit’s, many iconic items were given a new and luxurious interpretation, such as the famous Desert Coat fashioned from beautiful wool, cashmere fabrics with leather trim and spaces revealed between sections of fabric. The Desert Coat also received a new interpretation in a leather-trimmed cape with short, pleated sleeves and a high-waisted belt woven from the inside of the back section to the front. Another signature item, the Egg Coat, also appeared in a new sleeveless version, with a hood adorned with one of Saranga’s ceramic pins.

But anyone who was hoping to see the dawn of a new era for Maskit will be disappointed. The remaining items in the collection presented an elegant though somewhat conservative line that included the use of stones, studs, beads and wood. All the maxi-length dresses were well-sewn from high-quality cotton, silk and chiffon fabrics. Hand-painted works, reminiscent of Rothko, were added to some of the fabrics, lending them a more intriguing look, but they didn’t get much bolder than that. The evening gowns were still pretty and precise, but there was something old-fashioned about them, and they left the impression that this is an expensive collection meant to satisfy the label’s wealthy client base without taking them a step further.

While the embroidery and painted ceramic stones recalled the DNA of the legendary Maskit, the new collection seemed a bit manneristic in its use of ornamentation. It was all in very good taste, but didn’t cause any great excitement. The Desert Coat and the Egg Coat may still have an almost eternal look, but the new collection seemed detached from the time and place in which it was created. In the past, Maskit always succeeded on this count, but not this time.

Pants: NIS 1,200-1,800; Shirts: NIS 700-3,000; Coats: NIS 3,250-5,600; Dresses: NIS 3,250-25,000; Silk scarves: NIS 950; Jewelry: NIS 1,250-2,500