Tel Aviv Fashion Week: What's the Point of White Teeth if You Can't Smile?

The media statement declared that Alembika’s 'new urbanity' collection 'replaces industrial alienation with a smile,' but the models who took the runway one after the other all had that 'dead inside' look.

Tomer Appelbaum

Outside the elaborate construction site where Israel's Fashion Week has been held in recent days, one could still see the stubborn traces of the country's present reality: a patrol car, border policemen, even a K-9 officer in civilian dress and a protective vest. Row upon row of dusty footprints remained on the red carpet, fading away as you went further inside.

The decision to hold the annual event at a construction site felt like a crude promotion idea for the Gindi Group’s real-estate business, as well as a transparent and overweening attempt to generate buzz. One big drawback at the event, formally called the Gindi TLV Fashion Week, was that the air conditioning in the vast space didn’t work, or didn’t have much of an effect, so everywhere you looked you saw people feverishly fanning themselves with their cardboard tickets. Functional design at its best.

Three fashion bloggers were standing near the press area. Asked what they thought of the show, they all answered with a single word: “hot.” And then added, “It could have been organized a bit better.” Another journalist dubbed the event “Gindi’s Perspiration Week.”

In the reception area there was a stand sponsored by Colgate, where people could avail themselves of the unique opportunity to sit on a white sofa in a white room and have their picture taken next to a cabinet filled with bottles of mouthwash and tubes of toothpaste.

Tomer Appelbaum

Makes you wonder if at Fashion Week in Milan and Paris, there are stands where you can have your picture taken with some sort of commercial product and get a refrigerator magnet into the bargain. Like the poet said, though, this ain’t Europe, and the Colgate booth actually fit right in at a happening where any connection with good taste or style was purely coincidental.

Alembika’s show began, no surprise, with a commercial projected on a giant screen and at earsplitting volume – an advertisement for Gindi. The press communique distributed to journalists explained that the collection was comprised of “galabias with soft silhouettes rich maxi dresses and more.”

The vast majority of designer Hagar Alembik’s clothes appeared to be cut wide, almost completely avoiding anything tight-fitting; we saw lots of galabias, oversize dresses and baggy pants. Yes, it’s nice that they chose to design clothes for women with different types of figures, but why were all the models still so young and stick-thin? Does this really represent Alembika’s target audience?

The media statement also declared that Alembika’s “new urbanity” collection “replaces industrial alienation with a smile, with fabrics that harmoniously combine with each other.” A smile? The models who took the runway one after the other all wore the same blank expression. They all had that “dead inside” look. As they passed each other on the runway, I tried to locate some sign of life in their faces. A raised eyebrow, a roll of the eye, a look of encouragement from the model who just finished her catwalk to the one about to start hers. Nada. Zip. Industrial alienation was replaced with emotional death.

Every so often, the audience applauded, at seemingly random moments. Just what were they cheering? The same model they’d already seen five times in the last 15 minutes? The jacket with “period references to classic Europe” (in the bizarre wording of the press release)? But even the applause didn’t evoke the slightest trace of a smile, or any other response for that matter, from the models. It’s enough to make a person miss the good 'ole days of industrial alienation.

Tomer Appelbaum
Tomer Appelbaum