Style Junkie: Think big

With his theatrical, artistic and larger-than-life clothes, Sasson Kedem wishes to create a territory of peace for the woman wearing his creations.

December 7, 2010 18:31
4 minute read.
A design by Sasson Kedem.

sasson kedem design_311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

At the end of a long day, most people walk into their home, throw down their bag or briefcase and change into comfy clothes. There is truly no relaxation greater than that of slipping on pajamas, your favorite T-shirt or the softest jeans in your closet. Whatever the garment is, we all have something that makes us feel at ease. It is exactly this feeling that Sasson Kedem aims to sew into his largerthan- life clothing.

Kedem is a Tel Aviv-based designer. He produces all of his clothes in a three-story building close to the beach. In his own words, not a single garment is sold that he hasn’t laid his deft hands on. Sitting in his office, which is jam packed with this season’s collection, coffee-table books about Batsheva Dance Company and Issey Miyake, Kedem spoke warmly of his life’s work. “I want to take the fabric and build a home, a territory...something that the body will enter and feel that it’s at peace there. It is an article of clothing that you wear for the first time but feel that its been with you your entire life,” he explained.

Many people may remember Sasson Kedem from last year’s hit reality show Project Runway. In the Israeli take on the American program, Kedem filled the role played by Tim Gunn. He guided the contestants through challenges, much as he does as a mentor and teacher at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, often gathering the group together to critique each other’s work. However, unlike Tim Gunn, who spends his time off the silver screen as a sculptor and fashion historian, Kedem is an active designer. His label, Kedem Sasson, is a major force in the Israeli retail market and is distributed widely throughout Europe.

While on the show Kedem was seen as an authority on trends, he is completely indifferent to the happenings of the fashion world when he designs. “I never, never, never pay attention to trends!” he declared. Size also bears little meaning to Kedem. The clothes are geared towards fuller women, starting at around size 40. However, a Kedem Sasson client is not defined by her body type or age, but by something much deeper. “The body of the person who wears my clothes doesn’t need to be thin or full,” said Kedem. “However, not everyone can wear my clothes. You need something extra, physically and in the soul... a symbiosis that allows you to fill the garments I make. You need to feel that you belong to this tribe. Because it is clear that these clothes have their own language. The people who wear my clothes make a cosmic family. A woman who is wearing Kedem can recognize another. It doesn’t matter where: on the plane, at the store...because these clothes are more than clothes, they are a characteristic. It’s not about the fabric or the cut, its about a beautiful character trait that my clients embody.”

To get inspired, Kedem attends many dance performances. “Every time I feel stuck,” he said, “I ask Gadi Dagon [the dance photographer] to take me out to see something. That’s how I learn about the body. By seeing the huge range of movements of the dancers.”

As part of his formidable career, Kedem has designed costumes for many of Israel’s top dance companies. Most recently, he created the Shaolin monk-esque robes worn by Vertigo Dance Company in Mana.

Perhaps more so than his colleagues, Kedem’s design language is crystal clear. “Until the age of 40 I was searching,” he said. “ Only now at the age of 46 can I say that my language is very clear to me. It took me a long time to understand what I wanted to create. Only now can I say that I understand color, movement, the soul of the body. My designs are much more specific as a result.”

This year’s collection has a lot of what Kedem describes as “colorful black and white.” As he explained the notion that black and white can be more than black and white, he picked out a number of fabrics from the many racks in his office. In his hands, the grays and soft whites did seem to represent a full color palette. “Black and white can be magical, and deep and colorful and free,” he said.

Kedem is very taken with the notion of the extra. Extra fabric, extra space, extra characteristics. These are the elements which give meaning to his designs. “I take the lines of the body and I continue them. I am not interested in showing the body. I am interested in sculpting the extra. I don’t create in fabric, I create in extra fabric,” he went on. “I do summer and winter but these are clothes for freedom. You can do anything in them.”

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