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The Jerusalem Post - Israel News
 
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Photo by: Yanai Yechiel
Style Junkie: A spot of tea
By ORI J. LENKINSKI
05/02/2012
Eva Mendelbaum’s summer collection is about British culture throughout the ages.
 
Eva Mendelbaum is simply fabulous. She is a dashing European jet-setter who wears extravagant outfits. She is a fashion icon. But perhaps the most intriguing thing about Mendelbaum is that she is a figment of the imagination of an even more alluring couple, Michael Sperer and Noam Zucker. Israelis, not Europeans, these two are the masterminds behind the budding label Eva Mendelbaum.

Over a pitcher of ice water and a bowl of ginger snaps, Zucker and Sperer talk about the inception of their brand, the figurehead in place and their creative process. Seated beneath an eye-catching painting by his wife, Sperer is happy to discuss the fictitious resumé he has created for the so-called Eva Mendelbaum.

Everything about Zucker and Sperer’s business is refreshing.

Their showroom and store is located in an unusual corner of Tel Aviv, situated just south of the Azrieli Center in a breezy little cul-de-sac. Shefa Tal Street is one the mysterious paths in Tel Aviv that only seem to exist once the need arises to go there. It is in this unusual environment that Eva Mendelbaum set up shop and began an amiable takeover of Israeli fashion.

The white walls of the space are adorned with original artwork by the couple. A low shelf beneath the large display window holds neatly folded children’s clothing – memories of the first line designed for the Eva Mendelbaum label.

“We started by making organic kids’ clothing. But we quickly realized that we couldn’t get to where we wanted to go with organic fabrics. It was very limiting for us,” says Sperer.

Though the venture was finally deemed unsustainable, the mini-Mendelbaum line is a small example of the startling creativity the two are capable of.

“With kids’ clothes, you can really go wild,” smiles Zucker.

The release of the organic children’s wear collection took place in 2009, officially marking Zucker and Sperer’s dramatic leap into the fashion world.

Both Zucker and Sperer hail from the world of visual arts.

After graduating from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, the two spent several months honing their craft before Zucker enrolled at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. It was during her year at Shenkar that Zucker shifted her medium from canvas to cloth.

Now Zucker and Sperer work side by side on their label, keeping each other in balance at every turn. The mutual respect in the Mendelbaum office is palpable.

“I see potential in everything,” beams Zucker. “And sometimes he doesn’t like it. Michael keeps me realistic. There are a bunch of ideas that I try over and again that just don’t work, so we are in a constant process of elimination.”

“Noam is the heart of the company,” interjects Sperer. “She has the vision. When we get to formal things like composition and color choices, I get involved.”

Eva Mendelbaum’s design perspective clearly reflects a visual arts sensibility. “I don’t begin from a thought about clothes,” she says. “I’ll start by getting very interested in a specific person or idea, and it becomes the trigger for the next collection.”

Florence Welch of the music group Florence and the Machine provided the spark for the summer collection, called English Breakfast.

“This collection is about British culture throughout the ages. We took things that were classically European and brought something light to them, hence the name English Breakfast. It is British elements suited to the Israeli climate,” Sperer explains.

The line is airy and delicate, with references to Delft china and Hawaiian shirts. Last year’s winter collection, entitled Radio Enterprise, focused on metallic tones and clean lines. Full of flowers and bright colors, English Breakfast has brought a new, whimsical tone to the label.

At present, Zucker is collecting inspirational materials for the winter line, which will be Eva Mendelbaum’s fourth collection. “Each collection takes about half a year from start to finish. Once we release the line, we continue adding to it throughout the season,” says Sperer.

All told, an average collection will include 20 garments.

Unlike most fashion designers, Zucker does not wear her own pieces. “I think that the first meeting with a garment is a very powerful moment. There is a lot of excitement that goes into that encounter. And I think for that excitement to be there, the garment has to be complete. When you meet a piece along the way, it messes up that feeling, at least for me,” she says.

English Breakfast is now on sale at the Eva Mendelbaum, store as well as a number of boutiques such as Razili, Boutique 5 in Tel Aviv and Sophia in Jerusalem. Items range from NIS 250 to NIS 700.

The Eva Mendelbaum store is located at 8 Shefa Tal Street in Tel Aviv. For more information, visit www.evamendelbaum.com.


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