The excitement in Tel Aviv's Hangar 11 was
palpable. The nervous buzz of friends and family members echoed above
the quiet whispers of journalists, bloggers and photographers. By the
time the much-anticipated fashion show began on the evening of July 14,
the crowd could hardly contain themselves.
Shabani, the new director of the fashion design department at the Neri
Bloomfield School of Design in Haifa, gave a brief introduction. He
explained that the graduating class of 2009 chose to exhibit their
first collections in Tel Aviv for two reasons: to participate in the
city's centennial celebrations and to show their deep connection and
affinity to the center of the country's fashion world.
The first in the lineup were the top students in lower classes,
which included an impressive array of creativity. "I encourage the
students to push themselves to their absolute limits and take chances,"
Shabani later explained in a phone interview. "This is the time when
they can be innovative and have the guts to experiment. Sometimes that
means making mistakes, but it's better to do it as a student than out
in the real world."
The young and energetic new director, who took over in December
2007, speaks from experience. He spent nine years in New York as a
fashion designer working with some of the most famous fashion houses in
the world - including Lord and Taylor, Perry Ellis and Geoffrey Beene -
before returning two years ago. "Much of the innovation in fashion
design comes from textiles, so one of my only rules with the students
is that they are not allowed to use fabric that already has a print,"
he says emphatically. "If they want a print, they have to design and
print it themselves."
This philosophical principle was crystal clear on
the runway. The students used everything from antique embroidery to
crocheted carpets in their designs. Another strong leitmotif in many of
the collections was the ability to connect and combine unusual
materials in the clothing, such as plastic, copper, plastic and glass.
"It was the first time we ever did the show in Tel Aviv and it
was a huge success," Shabani said. "I'm very proud of all of the
students, especially the graduates who worked so hard to produce
incredible collections with individual signatures."
My top picks for creativity, innovation, and beauty are the following five:
Entitled "Circus," this stunning first collection was inspired
by the freak-show posters used to advertise the traveling circuses that
were incredibly popular during the 1920s. She came up with the concept
during her research and was attracted to the idea of a clothing line
that would be both flattering and unique. "I really like unusual
things, and this theme allowed me to pull materials from my
grandparents, the flea market and second-hand clothing shops."
Although the embroidery work in some of the pieces was already
made, Zorea did the sewing herself. She also hand made the tights and
all of the accessories, including the hats and jewelry. One corset in
the show combined an antique piece of embroidered flowers with sturdy
striped material ordinarily used for furniture. A bright
yellow-and-black overcoat was made from an old carpet and the belt
around one dress was originally for drapes. "It was a long process to
come up with the ideas and then search for the right materials, sew it
and come up with the right combinations."
Zorea admires the crazy combinations and theatrical ideas of
LaCroix and hopes to continue making outlandish but elegant evening
wear. "Once I had my ideas together and I found the materials, the rest
went smoothly. It was time consuming because I'm a perfectionist, so I
wanted to do everything myself down to the last stitch. In the end, the
finished collection was worth it."
For as long as she can remember, Heli Edri wanted to be a
fashion designer. She comes from a long line of seamstresses. Her
mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all made clothing for their
children. She is the first, however, to make a career out of it.
Despite having her first baby during the third year, she returned
almost immediately to classes so she could graduate on time with her
"It was the hardest thing I ever did because I had to leave my
baby with my mom and my aunt all the time, but I got over it and I'm
really happy that I was able to persevere and finish."
Inspired by Moroccan architecture, her colorful collection of
leather and fabric dresses combines colorful basics with intricate
patterns, both printed and cutouts. Layers of vivid leather solids and
prints have wild shapes that give the entire collection a futuristic,
extraterrestrial look. "I like the combination of simple and
sophisticated when it comes to clothing, and I always make things that
look a bit out of this world," she says. "I've been told before that it
looks like I'm making clothes for aliens."
Some of her inspiration for this collection came from Manish
Arora, an Indian designer best known for his psychedelic colors and
kitsch motifs, who uses a combination of embroidery, appliqué and
beading in his work. "I really like the way he thinks and how
open-minded he is about possibilities for clothing. I got a lot of
really good responses from architecture students who liked the lines so
I was pleased about that."
In the future, Edri would like to try her hand at more
prêt-à-porter and sell her lines to designer stores. "My real dream is
to one day create my own line."
Originally from Kiryat Tivon, Tal Ben-Binyamin grew up in an
artistic family. Her grandparents owned the first clothing store in the
town and she has fond memories of her grandmother telling her stories
about taking the bus to Tel Aviv once a week to look for new designs in
the 1950s. In her collection, entitled "The Light at the End of the
Tunnel," the inspiration from origami is clear. Largely using black
"sky" (a shiny synthetic material) and chiffon, each dress had a
different dramatic connected by a similar design language.
"The biggest challenge for me with fashion design
is finding the balance between making art and designing something that
will look good on the body. I like unusual textures, and I wanted to
create dresses that would feel great on."
to the astonishing effects of paper cutting and folding, Ben-Binyamin
wanted to create that same magic with clothing. "I really admire Tali
Kursh and Yuval Caspin, two Israeli fashion designers and mentors who
helped me all along the way," she says. "I believe that clothing has
the power to change how you feel. When you look good on the outside,
you feel better on the inside."
Ori Shaikovitz got into fashion design by mistake. "I didn't
know what I wanted to study but I was making crocheted hats, so I
decided to take a course at the Neri Bloomfield School of Design in
Haifa," he explains. "After that, they persuaded me to stay."
Although it was an arduous road with at least one failure along
the way, Shaikovitz spent the last year on an amazing personal journey.
Rather than follow the traditional path, he chose to come up with a set
of rules for himself that he would have to follow to make the
collection. His first presentation - clothing made out of food - did
not pass muster with the professors. Nevertheless, he persevered and
decided to use his skills with a computer program for pattern making.
"It took a lot of effort and discipline to do this right, but in the
end I did it my way."
The vibrant blue, green and yellow solids broken up with
red-and-white stripes that make up his first collection "from the end
to the beginning" are largely the result of his self-imposed
guidelines. "I chose the colors based on what I wear and I used one
color because I restricted myself to solids," he says. "At first, I
wanted to do something big and extravagant, but then I realized that
big and extravagant things are difficult to change so I stuck with
does not see his future career as a fashion designer but he will
probably end up using his creativity. "I don't know what I'm going to
do yet, but I do know I want to make the world a better place. I'm
looking for a way to do that now."
The influence of theater and dance are clear in Marina
Roitman-Koushan's dramatic, colorful collection. The combination of
delicate silk material accented by tough leather belts symbolizes the
relationship between masculine and feminine.
"This was a very emotional, symbolic process for me," she
explains. "I found out I was pregnant while I was working on it, and I
think the idea of two things becoming one - like a man and woman who
together create a harmonious new life - is omnipresent."
Another important aspect of this clothing comes from her
background in theater and dance. Heavily influenced by how a piece of
clothing looks when the body moves, Roitman-Koushan's pieces change
drastically with movement. The large sleeves are actually connected to
the center of the dress and jacket so that when the arms are raised,
they form two large circles. "My background is in theater and dance and
you can see that some of my inspiration came from this world."