A New Crop of Fashion Designers Rethink Design

From clothing inspired by Umm Kulthum to new weaving methods, the year-end exhibits are entertaining and impressive.

Ilya Melnikov

A new crop of 105 Israeli students completed their BA in fashion design last month, slightly fewer than the number of graduates last year. 

Alongside the usual attempts to uncover their personal identities and roots, this current crop of graduates was forced to go even further and come up with their materials on their own. More than any other, this year’s class was forced to weave or knit their own fabrics; some used nontraditional materials like plastic string, and other utilized digital printouts for their work. In addition, a great many of the students’ final projects included developing an entirely new kind of material or technology.

In general, graduation exhibitions are an opportunity for celebrating talent, and the fresh alumni are all seeking to stand out. But the projects that stood out this year did so due to their relative modesty, or the maturity and complexity of the students behind them. One of the students, for example, decided to focus on designing children’s’ clothing (which isn’t a favorite of alumni). Two others attempted to track emotional states in fabric, and yet another designed clothing for the third gender.

Dana Boidek, 27, from Netanya. NB Haifa, collection: “Want of Matter”

Boidek: “We were tasked with connection to Israeliness, and it was easier for me to choose an artistic style that was called ‘want of matter.’ The use of readymade objects and light material helped me tell the story of my Ukrainian grandmother, who used to take apart articles of clothing and remake them for us.”

Anat Uziely, 26, from Jerusalem. Bezalel, collection: LOOMing Bags

Uziely: “This project is actually a continuation of something I started last year, when I did an exchange program at Parsons in New York. Even then, I was interested in the connection between our working tools and the end product, the object. At Parsons, I made a loom out of wood, and started to knit. This time, I used only skins.”

Tamar Goldberg, 28, from Haifa. Bezalel, collection: “Neto.”

Goldberg: “The starting point of my project is a weaving method that I developed, in which I use string and synthetic lattices. The pieces of clothing I made were created by combining parts of different lattices, and by stringing them together, without any kind of outer connections like buttons or accessories.”

Hilla Shapira, 24, from Tel Aviv. Bezalel, collection: “Please define”

Shapira: “I wanted to talk about clothing and definitions: is something objective, or just a creation of society? I connect to my project on a personal level. As a daughter from a religious family, I never felt comfortable with religion, and on the other hand, I’m not secular. The same goes for everything connected to gender or sexual identity. I’ve never felt as if I fall into textbook definitions.”

Ella Ivanov, 26, from Carmiel, NB Haifa, collection: “Aloontina.”

Ivanov: “As a person born in the Ukraine, who moved to Israel at age 13, I tried to combine the restrained education I got with my experiences of integration into Israeli society – the abundance, the air conditioning, even the smell of tangerines. The pieces take elements from the school uniforms, but also, the clothes I designed are wide, and do not cling to the body.”

Lina Abas, 22, from Julis. Shenkar, collection: “Umm Kulthum”

Abas: “The project was inspired by Umm Kulthum, as I’ve been a fan since I was a kid. I wanted to capture the feeling of waking up in the morning to her music, to something clean and pure. That’s the reason that the whole collection is white. My experience is that this is a symbol of holiness.”

Noga Winokur, 29, from Jerusalem. Shenkar, collection: In/Trans/Spection

Winokur: “The starting point of my project was the tension between the constant search for something new and the need to reinvent ourselves amidst the changes, and the need to find our internal places of shelter, that represent ourselves, and are clear. At the same time, I had a sort of vision of grids, and movement. From there, I got the Idea to create a fabric that turns the grid into something in motion.”

Gustavo M. Franco, 24, from Nahariya. Shenkar, collection: Yander

Franco: “The idea for this collection first came to me while I was interning at Lanvin in Paris. I looked for inspiration, and a friend advised that I focus on what I felt. At that moment, I felt cut off from all roots: I’m originally from Argentina, I live in Israel, and I feel cut off from these two places at the same time. From there I began to think about the lack of roots and wandering, and I read a lot about all kinds of journeys – like discovering new lands, but also psychological journeys too. I shed all of the characteristics that make a culture distinct – like handcrafts, jewelry, and other things, and that’s how I made the general nomad, who is slightly Arab and slightly Asian, but not entirely one or the other.”

Einav Dalva, 29, from Kibbutz Zikim. Shenkar, collection: Kid Me Not

Dalva: “My inspiration came from the way we perceive children today, and how we affect them. During the 20th century they treated children differently, and regarded childhood differently in literature and in fashion. I did not want to focus on that period itself, but on the narrative. I focused on the book, “The Fish’s Journey,” by Tom Seidmann-Freud‏, which is geared for children but also deals with the fantasy world in which they live, without any adults, that they run on their own.”

Elisha Abargel, 29, from Ashdod, Shenkar, collection: XXY

Abargel: “Thoughts about intersex began to come up after I saw a series of statues that artist Mark Quinn exhibited in 2010 in London. Two of them were dedicated to porn stars who had undergone operations to allow them to have both male and female sexual organs. This sexual dichotomy astounded me, and in my work I focused on superheroes and football players, two images that present something masculine that is expressed in the body. On the other hand, I created pieces that cling to the body, which are feminine in nature.”