Blurring the Line Between Fashion and Art

Fashion designer Liora Taragan creates a fantastic world of imagination and daring.

Stepping inside Liora Taragan's studio is like something out of the classic children's book, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." In a moment of drastic transformation, you depart a small and dreary street in south Tel Aviv and are thrust into a cluttered empire filled with trinkets, fabrics and a dizzying array of colors and pictures.

Here in this eclectic studio, Taragan is busy at work creating a variety of ready-made clothes and accessories, as well as custom-made items for clients.

Taragan's studio in south Tel Aviv - courtesy
Courtesy

"What do I do, fashion or art?" the designer asks herself, noting the delicate tension at the heart of her designs. Taragan offers a broad spectrum of items including jackets and leather items, blouses, slacks, dresses, jalabiyas, jewelry, scarves and accessories. Each creation questions the generally accepted notions of the fashion world by blurring the distinctions between clothes, jewelry, functionality and aesthetics.

Taragan, 38, boasts an impressive resume. After studying fashion design at the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, she interned at Givenchy and Jean Paul Knott and worked for a short time for Roberto Cavalli (with the designer Tamara Yovel Jones ). She also has collaborated with Israeli designers such as Banot, Vivi Balaish and Dorit Bar Or (for DoDo ).

"Today I believe less in intermediaries," says Taragan. "I want to get to know my customers. The important thing is the personal experience with the customer and their encounter with the clothes."

Indeed, the encounter with Taragan's clothes and accessories offers a glimpse into a fantastic world full of imagination and daring.

Feathers are a key element in her work, and they appear in a range of shapes and materials. Dozens of black leather feathers combine to create a scarf that also can work as a necklace or decorative accessory. Taragan also offers a macrame necklace with parrot feathers that resembles an African-inspired accessory; hair clips covered in feathers; a feather belt; and a soft jalabiya with leather feathers sparkling like strange and intriguing growths.

In the past year, feathers have appeared in many fashion houses, from Ann Demeuelemeester, who began making feather jewelry, to Kim Jones, who last week in Paris had models wearing Louis Vuitton men's clothes with a feather on the lapel of their coats. And so, as Taragan manages to create a unique world all her own, it appears she is still loosely connected to the outside world as well.

The cuts of Taragan's clothes are loose and simple. Examples are her oversized, black jalabiya, and her minimalist-cut blouse. Details such as gold shells and buttons, cast by the designer, give the clothes a unique and magical touch, and an almost mystical appearance.

Beyond the use of these garnishes, Taragan offers a selection of clothes that form the basis of her collection. A soft, black, leather jacket, tailored according to size, with an open neck and belt, acquires sex appeal through the use of multiple zippers and the soft leather's amazing fit.

Riding-style leather slacks, tailored to the individual, are another amazing example of a simple item with a precise cut, soft leather and minimalist design. Her simple T-shirts made from fine fabrics in loose fits are elegant and appealing.

Other blouses made from double-layer, perforated taffeta with feathers attached look like a wild combination of 1920s influences and an Indian-inspired look. Polo shirts with gold buttons inset, which Taragan casts herself, have an elegant and mysterious look, despite their simplicity. The same is true of the layered skirt (of unequal layers ) which features a rubber zipper and can be worn as a maxi or rolled up.

The light look of a simple, white jacket conceals its quality. Oversized blouses with rope belts, silk blouses in black and red, and jalabiyas made of sweet viscose (with hidden pockets on the sides ) each maintain the clean line of Taragan's designs.

Taragan's accessories are a wonderful mix of exotic creations. Each one can be used in a variety of ways. A simple, cotton, Indian scarf with feathers can be used as the basis for add-ons such as pearls and fringe-like touches. Another scarf made of hand-knit cotton threads with flattened strips of silver and gold can also work as a necklace.

Taragan also offers a leather bracelet with cast shells coated in gold; huge necklaces that look like exotic armor; and items made of feathers, arrows and other decorative elements.

"It's like a living body," Taragan says of her creations. "These are breathing objects that shift and are in constant motion."

Starting prices: scarves, NIS 450; jewelry, NIS 250; dresses, NIS 1,500; jackets, NIS 3,500; slacks and blouses, NIS 1,000. Telephone: 050-698-8434