The opening of Tel Aviv Fashion Week Monday has put Israel back on the world fashion map after more than a quarter of a century.

It’s not that Israeli designers are unknown to the world’s fashion mavens. Some of them are unknown, but more on an individual basis than as a collective.

Just as Italy and France are known as fashion countries, aside from the kudos given to individual designers, so Israel is known as a hi-tech country, as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai mentioned at a reception hosted by Italian Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo to mark the launch of the project, which has been two years in the making.

The Italian ambassador was involved because Tel Aviv and Milan are twin cities. Also, the creator of the garments in the gala fashion show paraded on Monday night at the old Jaffa Railway Station, which has been turned into a lifestyle hub and a major tourist attraction, was one of Italy’s leading fashion luminaries, Roberto Cavalli.

For another, the people behind the Fashion Week had been in consultation all along with Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the Italian Fashion Chamber. The Israelis had received enormous cooperation.

This cooperation translated itself into a signed agreement between Ofir Lev, the deputy CEO of the Israel Fashion and Textile Association, and Mario Boselli, president of the chamber and in Mottiolo’s words “Italy’s ambassador of fashion.”

The chamber determines the international fashion calendar so there will be no clashes between fashion week dates in major fashion countries.

At the signing ceremony with Israel at the railway station Monday, Boselli said that while it was unusual to sign such an agreement at the beginning of a fashion week, he had done so “in tribute to this country, this city.”

He understood the creativity of Israeli designers, he said, and he had been impressed by the quality of creativity of young designers from Shenkar College. In future some of these designers will be given the opportunity to show their fashions as part of a guest collective at the Milan Fashion Week.

Israel will suggest 10 young designers – not all them necessarily Shenkar students or graduates – and of these, the organizers of Milan Fashion Week will select five for a collective showing.

Lev was particularly excited about this because it will not only enable young, Israeli designers to absorb something of the fashion world beyond Israel, but it will also expose people who might not come to Israel to the broad perspective of Israeli creativity.

Three decades ago, when Israel fashion weeks were the glitz and glitter of the industry, they were held in hotels – primarily in Tel Aviv, but also in Jerusalem and Eilat.

Asked if there was a special reason for holding the Tel Aviv Fashion Week at the rail station, Lev said that in a previous era hotel rooms were turned into showrooms, but fashion is much more than that. It lends itself to lifestyle and lifestyle includes tourism.

Indeed, the Ministry of Tourism is a major partner in the venture and brought 60 leading international fashion and lifestyle journalists to Israel to not only cover the fashion week but to tour the country and see how different it is to what is portrayed on television screens back home.

This is in line with the ministry’s new focus on lifestyle and niche tourism.

Without the publicity that will be generated abroad by these journalists, Fashion Week would be a flop. Many visiting journalists were already busy with their laptops on Monday morning.

At the reception at his residence Sunday, Mattiolo expressed heartfelt appreciation to Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov.

Silvan Shalom, minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee, who was the guest speaker at the reception said “Fashion Week gives us a chance to show the other side of Israel, which we would like the world to recognize.”

Boselli, who is in Israel for the first time, found it very different from what he had thought it would be, Shalom noted.

Cavalli, who has been in Israel many times, was swamped by the media, and the Italian military attache had to forcefully but politely keep people at bay as he guided Cavalli to the microphone.

“Israel is in my heart,” declared the designer, who confessed to having had the biggest love of his life in Israel – a confession he made in front of his wife. “I love Sabra girls, especially the color of their eyes.”

Future Tel Aviv Fashion Weeks will also have an Italian star component. Lev would not list his preferences, but said he would pass them on to Boselli to see who was available.

There will be two Tel Aviv Fashion Weeks each year – one spring/summer and the other fall/winter. Plans are already afoot to show the fall/winter creations in April 2012.

Lev was adamant that Fashion Week will be held solely in Tel Aviv and no other city in Israel.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger