The weavers of dreams

A new exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot follows Jewish tailoring and fashion from biblical times to the present.

By ORI J. LENKINSKI
November 27, 2014 13:07
3 minute read.
Fasion exhibition

A model wears a Marc Jacobs design at new exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot. (photo credit: YAKI HALPERIN)

 
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The opening of the new exhibition at Beit Hatfutsot, The Museum of the Jewish People had all the glam and glitz of a show at Paris Fashion Week. A very unusual happening for the north Tel Aviv museum, the unveiling of “Dream Weavers” drew fashionistas, academics and celebrities to the renovated main hall, where they mingled, photographed one another and beheld hundreds of years of Jewish innovation.

This exhibition marks a major leap into the limelight for the archival museum, which until now has featured slightly less commercial collections.

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“Dream Weavers: From Jewish Tailors to Top Fashion Designers” follows fashion innovation from the time of the Bible to the present day. On one of the stark white walls at the entrance to the exhibition, a blurb explains that clothing have always been important in Jewish symbology.

From the striped coat Jacob bought for Joseph to prove his love to the black hats of hassidic men, clothing has been a source of inspiration, a point of contention and a means to express who we are. It is no coincidence, then, that so many Jews found themselves working as tailors and seamstresses.

This experience, gained in the old world, gave Jewish immigrants to America and Western Europe a leg up on their competition, and within one generation Jews moved from the back of the house to the front of the runway.

Over the years, many Jews have made their mark in the fashion industry. In the 1870s, a German-Jewish immigrant to the United States became the first man to market a new type of resilient work pants. Without knowing it, Levi Strauss and his denim jeans changed the face of fashion forever.

In the 1950s and 1960s, designers such as Arnold Scaasi, Sonia Rykiel, Ralph Lauren and Donna Karan became pioneers in a revolution that broke the French monopoly on fashion. Their successors, such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs and Michael Kors, emerged into an already fertile ground for creative progression.



The exhibition culminates in a dark room in which white dresses hang fanned out like leading ladies on a spotlit stage. These creations, one for each chosen label or designer, represent the ultimate dream garment.

Each dress is accompanied by a quote.

Alber Elbaz, founder and director of French fashion house Lanvin, paired his winged, satin gown with these words: “I design from my heart, making the fantasy, the dream into a reality.”

“A woman’s secret is glamour where no one can see” is printed next to the very distinct Snow Angel, designed by Serkan Cura for Victoria’s Secret. With its skimpy silhouette and feathered embellishments, this piece stands out in its boldness and beauty.

A cluster of young talent from Israel joins the big names from America and Europe. Yigal Azrouel, Avshalom Gur, Kobi Halperin, Avi Tenzer, threeASFOUR, Inbal Spector and Natalie Capell represent the future of Israeli design.

In the words of Shelly Verthime, curator of the exhibition, “In the 21st century, a new generation of young Israeli-born designers joined the international fashion scene. These designers, who chose to follow their dreams aboard, are each characterized by a unique approach to the world of fashion and to the dream of creating an original contemporary style. Their various sources of inspiration include the history of Israel, the Hebrew language and the Jewish symbols, alongside a desire to break free of their heritage and be recognized for their contemporary spirit and glorification of beauty.”

And if “Dream Weavers” isn’t enough of a draw to Beit Hatfutsot on its own, right next door is another new exhibition titled “Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait.” In this smaller and more intimate show, visitors can watch videos of the late singer performing in a high-school talent show, admire bits and bobs from her illustrious wardrobe and read excerpts from her journals.

“Dream Weavers” will be on display until mid-May 2015. For more information, visit www.bh.org.il.

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