A Fashion Oasis in a Desertscape

Castro chose an unusual setting to launch its new and inspired line.

A gigantic photo of a desert landscape at night served as the backdrop for Castro’s 2012 spring-summer show. The runway was a large slope resembling a dune, covered in shiny white linoleum. A sloped runway makes life harder for models who are already teetering on high heels. But if the stage set was unusual, it was ultimately successful. The same can be said of the collection which, despite its peculiarity, left an overall positive impression.

The new black

Castro - Tomer Appelbaum - February 19, 2012
Tomer Appelbaum

The spring show marked the festive launch of a new line of clothing. It is called “Black” and it joins the brand’s two existing lines, “Red” ‏(the casual line‏), and “Blue” ‏(jeans‏). The new line aims to be sophisticated and prestigious. The team of designers do this through complex cuts, high quality fabrics and bolder fashion brio. For years the brand has been plagued by near or complete misses in the small details. This is not the case with the new line as evidenced by a sneak preview of items, a few days before the show, at Castro’s Bat Yam showroom.

The overall look is more precise and refined than ever. This is immediately obvious in the rich spectrum of colors and mid-tones like sand, mocha, coffee and mint, as well as in the range of textures. If last winter the emphasis was on shiny satins, with the texture of crepe made from silk or polyester fabrics, this season is characterized by a more serene atmosphere in which natural fabrics prevail. Linen and Tencel fabrics, both suited to the local climate, enrich the collection and add a note of sophistication.

“We made a point of ‘cleaning up’ the cuts of the shirts and the jackets in the line, which for the most part are without lapels and with hidden zippers,” explains Dganit Hollinger-Ram, director of the women’s clothing department. “This has created a more serene and sophisticated look.” The prints in this line also have a more subtle presence. Instead of animal prints, for example, a print of spots in shades of brown underwent a digital process before it was chosen to adorn a light jacket.

The division of the collection into separate departments gave the designers more leeway to focus on a distinct style. So, for instance, the casual clothes, for both women and men, suddenly look freer and more streetwise. Cotton trousers in a wide range of vivacious colors − green, yellow, pink, turquoise and red − are a bright and variegated base for the wardrobe and can be paired with equally colorful striped shirts and tunics, some with African-style prints.

Easy in a local style

Back to the fashion show. The eclectic soundtrack of Avihai Partok and Uri Lichtig reflected the variety of influences in the collection, which ranged from African tribalism to Parisian elegance. However, the choice of this hybrid of electronic sounds with African and psychedelic elements, combined with samplings of classical music, sounded odd from the very first moment. It did not allow for an opening full of momentum. And at times it felt as though something wasn’t going quite right when the female models walked hesitantly in their high-heels and male models had to slow down their stride on the steep slope.

But the music didn’t spoil the show. The women wore floating evening dresses or long romantic robes embroidered with elongated gold beads, their hair bundled in intentionally nonchalant bouffant styles, with long gold dangling earrings. They looked like jet-setters who had survived the crash of a private plane in the desert − not a bad look. The men, hair flattened with gel, and eyes emphasized with dark makeup, seemed to evoke Lawrence of Arabia.

A similarly Middle Eastern spirit prevailed in the denim line as well. This isn’t the first time the brand’s designers have developed an entire wardrobe from the rough fabric. This year it received an additional touch of comfort and lightness that reflected local style: Alongside fitted and slimming shirt dresses, there were also soft caftan dresses, a set of harem pants and a shirt in a wide, square shape, and loose Bermuda shorts tied in the front like fisherman’s pants. The fabrics themselves were gossamer and especially suited to the Israeli summer. Slight changes in the proportions adapted the tailored styles to the local dress code without detracting from their elegance. In today’s competitive market, that is a great advantage for the brand.

One of the outstanding motifs in the collection is ikat − an ancient method of weaving in which the warp thread is tied and dyed before it is woven in a repeating pattern prepared in advance. The designers have imitated these rich weaving patterns in prints on shirts, trousers, dresses, jackets and overalls. At the showroom this group of garments was weak. The prints looked insipid, without the richness characteristic of this method of weaving. On the runway, however, the experience was different. A red suit in an ikat print topped by a bright red coat worn by one of the male models was amazingly photogenic ‏(the show was broadcast live on television and the Internet‏).

Sagiv Galam, head of the men’s clothing department, noted that all the styles previewed will be in Castro stores during the season, including those produced especially for the show, which will be marketed in limited editions.

In addition, there are quite a number of desirable items in the spring wardrobe.

Women can choose from loose linen dresses, sets of tailored jackets and pants and a selection of lace and fringed dresses. Men will no doubt rejoice to find viscose shirts in a wide cut divided into two different hues ‏(aqua and navy blue or yellow and white‏) along with a selection of light cotton jackets, buttoned shirts in a variety of styles and casual linen slacks.

A footnote: It is a bit jarring in a conversation with the brand’s designers to hear many English terms that are rendered in a kind of rag-trade Hebrish too weird to be translated back into proper English without tedious explanations. This may sound like a seemingly trivial detail, but developing a fluent discourse in the local language is essential for people creating original Israeli fashion.

Prices. For women: trousers, NIS 100 to NIS 300; shirts, NIS 40 to NIS 300; skirts and dresses, NIS 130 to NIS 400; jackets and coats, NIS 170 to NIS 1,200; accessories ‏(bags, shoes, scarves, etc.‏), NIS 100 to NIS 400. For men: trousers, NIS 130 to NIS 500; shirts, NIS 40 to NIS 260; jackets and coats, NIS 400 to NIS 750; accessories ‏(bags, shoes, scarves, etc.‏), NIS 30 to NIS 500. Store locations are listed at www.castro.co.il