For Israeli fashionistas, last week’s inaugural Tel Aviv
Fashion Week proved what they’ve known for years: Israeli fashion is creative,
current and worthy of worldwide attention - and, hopefully, sales.
wanted to help my business and help my country,” said organizer Ofir Lev, deputy
CEO of the Israel Textile and Fashion Association and a former model. “I wanted
to show that there is fashion and creativity in Israel.”
Lev drew on his
extensive contacts abroad to bring together foreign fashion writers and Italian
star designer Roberto Cavalli in Tel Aviv for the three-day fashion
While the Israeli fashion scene has been around for decades,
starting with Lea Gottlieb and her Gottex swimwear empire, it has been many
years since there was any kind of public fashion extravaganza.
Lev says he’s
already planning another Fashion Week for next April. He’s intent on getting
Israeli-American Elie Tahari as well as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Italian
designer Miuccia Prada and fashion luxury house Dolce & Gabbana on board.
Everyone is just “two phone calls away,” Lev says.
The challenge is to
get everyone to Israel, and the country’s reputation as a dangerous place -
albeit undeserved - makes it an uphill fight.
“We have to battle with a
Wild West existence,” said designer Dorit Frankfurt, who heads a
well-established Israeli label that exports overseas.
For Sasson Kedem, a creator of
artsy, architecturally styled pieces for women who also served as a mentor on
the one season of “Project Runway Israel,” said Tel Aviv Fashion Week -
referred to here as TLV FW, in Fashion TV style - was an opportunity to show
the world that “we’re not just about bombs.”
“We’re very clever,” Kedem
said, referring to his fellow design colleagues. “But we are different because
of this place. We have passion, and we have to grab our opportunities because no
one can take our inspiration from us.”
That’s the idea, says Kedem: Israel is not Paris, but Israeli
designers excel at “translating the land.”
“You see the Mediterranean in
our clothing,” he said. “We do intimate clothing that offers the feel of our