Thoughthe space is minimal, its energetic, loud music streams though a laptopcomputer, and the teal walls serve as an impromptu chalkboard. "Angeris energy" is scrawled in white beside the makeshift dressing room oflittle more than a corner partitioned by paper patterns hanging from asteel rack. Her clothes are as dynamic as the environment they arecreated in.
"My clothes are very organic in that manner, they are notplanned, they are intuitive," Bassad says. This approach explains whyno two pieces are identical. "Each is one. It's like days," saysMichal. "No day is the same, no day repeats itself."
While each piece is distinct, they are all reflective ofBassad's unique vision - part punk rock, part recycled, entirelyfanciful.
Though her style has evolved over the nine years shehas been making clothes, it is rooted in her first strokes. She beganafter "a beautiful, handsome man" broke her heart. Left with empty timeand a lot of large T-shirts, she started sewing. "I started making theminto other shirts, much more fitted, much more elegant," she recalls.
Working as a fashion photographer at the time, she made theseearly pieces for herself and friends. "I didn't think about turning itinto something big. It just grew," says Bassad. "I had a sale... and Isold all [the shirts] but one. I realized that there must be somethingthere I should explore."
Afterthis early success, she managed to place some of her clothing in whatshe refers to as "the right boutiques." But eventually she struck outon her own, becoming one of the first designers to open shop in GanHahashmal in South Tel Aviv - a neighborhood that simmers with youngdesigners. "I was living in the neighborhood when it was only foreignworkers - it was cheap, and I thought it was smart to start here,"Bassad says.
HER STORY is one of adaptability. Bassad began working withused cotton T-shirts out of necessity, but gradually turned it into anaesthetic. Echoing one of her influences, John Galiano, her work isfeminine and edgy.
On the day we interview her, Bassad is wearing a looseone-shoulder halter top that she has revamped from many shirts intoone. Though faded, the word Venezuela cuts diagonally across the torso,leaving the viewer to guess about the previous lives of the shirt.
A customer tries on a form-fitting, vivid bluedress. Bassad has treated the fabric a bit like a canvas - she beganwith white cotton, dyed it a subtle gray, and then painted it withuneven strokes that create a suggestion of water.
The customer looks at herself in the mirror. "It's like wearinga spring," Bassad comments. This dress, like her other pieces, is atonce playful and dramatic, reflecting her outlook on life, "Every dayshould be a celebration."
The bias cut of the fabric ensures a fluid fit that traces thelines of the customer's body. "The material gives me an idea of what todo with it... the material reacts."
But this approach isn't limited to her use of fabric alone."Real fashion designers communicate with things around them, and myclothes respond to everything I care about."
Three years ago, during the Second Lebanon War, Bassad madeT-shirts that simply said "Run." Others implored "Don't Shoot," withone word on each side of the shirt.
"So many people don't understand why they are working, whatthey are trying to say... But I believe because everything was hard forme I had to find a different way of doing things, my own language, alanguage that comes out of life."
"I'm a black North African - my father is from Libya and mymother from Tunisia," Bassad says. A first-generation Israeli, she grewup in Azarya, a village not far from Tel Aviv. "I had a very normal,quiet village life, but in my teens I found it boring, and I couldn'tfind anything to relate to," she recalls.
Her parents hoped she would become a white-collar professional,but Bassad gravitated naturally toward the arts, beginning with musicin her mid-teens. "I studied classical singing, that's why I moved toJerusalem, but then I discovered rock and roll... I wanted to be in aband, but I couldn't, I was too embarrassed. So instead I startedtaking photographs of rock bands."
ONE THING led to the next, and Bassad eased into the fashionworld via photography. She never studied design formally - she enrolledin art school but quickly dropped out. She spent several years inEurope, but despite the vibrant fashion scene there, it wasn't untilher return to Tel Aviv that she began to explore the industry herself.
From the start, it was apparent that her approach was less thantraditional and that her vision - which hearkens to the innovative,sometimes eccentric work of Belgian designer Martin Margiela - wasunique. Some of her early designs included external seams, whichdesigners from Shenkar told her were "against the rules."
"'What rules?' I asked them. 'Is there some kind of fashion rule book that says what is allowed, and what isn't?'"
What some might consider flawed fabric destined for the garbage,Bassad sees as opportunity. She shows us an older piece, one that's notfor sale. It serves as a testament, of sorts, to her past. She beganwith a shirt so worn out it was riddled with holes. She carefullystitched around each opening to reinforce and preserve the ragged look,then draped the reinforced fabric over a vintage punk rock shirt -leaving the word "vicious" visible through a gaping hole.
It's a high-fashion twist on punk - taken off the street and turned into art.
Holding the shirt before her, Bassad reflects on its history andher own. "It has to do with your surroundings - when it's hard core,the clothes are too. My design has become softer over the years... it'snot only about aesthetics, it's about philosophy and life."