Holy Fashion: Fresh Blood- new designers from Bezalel

Fashion Photographer Ella Manor captures collections from the Bezalel fashion show and exhibition.

Adi Raffeld­Podhorzer's Shem-­Etzem collection  (photo credit: ELLA MANOR)
Adi Raffeld­Podhorzer's Shem-­Etzem collection
(photo credit: ELLA MANOR)
I had the privilege of photographing two selected designs from each graduating collection of the Bezalel fashion and jewelry department.
Logistically it was a challenging endeavour: Thirty students in two days, coming in and out of the  studio, each one with a totally different story, new set of ideas and vision, some a bit confused  and some who know exactly what they want. All tired, overworked and running on adrenaline fumes. 
Surprisingly enough, we managed to shoot all of the looks and pieces we set out to shoot in a  relaxed and fun environment, while maintaining each young designer’s personal story and vision.
I was very pleased with how “together” the students were, being very respectful of their  environment, attentive and to the point. Not something to take for granted from students who are  in the midst of an emotional and physical roller coaster for the past year.
Between final reviews, the bezalel fashion show and exhibition, all on different dates, I grabbed  three of my favorite designers for some  Q & A about their final collection for Bezalel.
Make up by Tamar Jouval­-Aldema
Hair by Orian Ben Shushan
Lital actually approached me before the shoot for Bezalel and asked that I shoot an artistic vision for the entire collection for her catalog.
Here is a sneak peak at the results:
Make up & hair stylist Tamar Jouval-­Aldema
Male model Amit at Yuli Models
Female model Kate at Yuli Models
Between Deconstruction and Construction
The collection is comprised of six sets of clothes made of wool, cotton, woven raffia, and plastic. The collection's point of departure was the concept of biological hybridization, defined as "pairing two species or different strains in the aim of achieving a better strain." As part of the research I visited labs that develop and cultivate new strains of fruits by breeding familiar fruits, with the purpose of creating a better fruit: tastier, larger, and more colorful. In the second stage of the project, the concept of hybridization was applied to the world of clothes. The work process was based on artificial juxtapositions and cross breeding of familiar patterns that underwent deconstruction and reassembly. The linings of the clothes are made of silk printed with patterns derived from the world of fruits. The shoes are made of leather combined with textiles from the collection.
Materials: wool, cotton, plastic, raffia, goatskin.
Where do you usually derive inspiration from, is it material based, conceptually based or other?
Usually I derive inspiration from material objects. I like to go out with my camera and capture a moment that contains an atmosphere. This moment inspire me to begin the project.
What was the process of designing this collection-­ in stages? If there are stages­ which one is your favorite?
At first I traveled and photographed at “Ben-­Dor” company. This small-­family company specializes in fruit hybridization. This part helped me learn about the hybridization process and I was very inspired by the fruits’ textures. Then, I researched the process of hybridization, and brought my findings into the fashion world. I then started to take apart and bring together different figures and pieces and textures I collected during this process. I really enjoyed taking apart and re­connecting parts of different figures and working with the wide variety of colors and textures.
I know it took you quite a bit of time to work on this graduation collection.­How long did it take from start to finish?
All this process took about 10 months of intense and hard work.
I love the inner silk linings you created for this collection, they have these unusual patterns. ­ What objects are depicted in these patterns and how did you create them?
I used digital printing on silk of images from the fruit world. There’s pomegranate seeds, kiwi seeds, texture of the outside of a watermelon and the insides of the Pitaya tropical fruit.
Why did you choose to hide these beautiful, complex, and hard to come by fabrics in the inside of the garments where it can barely be seen?
I chose to place those textures inside the clothes (in the lining) in order not to expose the fruits from the first appearance but to add the surprise element to the viewers. It enhances the viewing experience.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
From an early age I loved fashion and used to attend fashion shows. During my army service I realized for sure that this is my direction.
What do you think makes a great designer?
A great fashion designer creates and nurtures their own design language. This design language should be unique, kind of like a fingerprint for other to recognize him. A great designer cares a lot about the small details of the clothes and also pays attention to the parts that only the client who wears it can see. A Great designer’s clothes can provide a special experience.
Is there someone you would like to thank?
During this last intensive year many people helped me. I would like to thanks my academic lecturers, the professionals whom I worked with, and my family and friends.
What are you future plans or goals? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
One of my future goals is to design a collection that will offer suitable clothing for women who are looking for tailored­-made, elegant and stylish outfits. The challenge will be to keep the clothes comfortable and distinguished to suit the needs of today’s work environment.
Knitted Tale
For me, knitting is a technique that allows the possibility of e
ndless continuity. The collection explores knitting through the female relationships and hierarchies in my family lineage: my grandmother, mother and I all produce handiworks, each in her own way. The process focused on traditional knitting techniques versus advanced techniques I devised in the various pieces, ranging from freestyle knitting to a structured laser­-cut grid woven with wool fibers. The patterns are voluminous, round and envelop the body with warm natural colors.
Materials: merino wool fibers, neoprene, silk, chiffon, wool.
Where do you usually derive inspiration from, is it material based, conceptually based or other?
For me, there is no "one way" to find inspiration. It can s
tart from the material as the current project did, but can also start from a story I've seen or heard. I need the initial spark and then I begin to explore and deepen my understanding of the different materials. As soon as something catches my interest I begin to understand in depth what it is, through the learning of the subject, I can search my personal statement.
What was the process of designing this collection­- in stages? If there are stages­ which one is your favorite?
The process consists of many stages. It began with a preliminary investigation on the subject, finding raw materials and experimenting with them. Then I began to examine how different materials interact with each other, creating patterns which correspond to the characteristics of the material and then the final assembly. My favorite part is undoubtedly the phase of searching for materials, because on one hand it is the preliminary stage where everything is still open and on the other it is a tangible step where you start to actually "feel" the different materials.
How long did it take you from start to finish to design this collection?
The final project continued throughout the last school year. The challenge is to know how to plan your schedule and always keep the initial spark you set off with.
I love your wool dress­ how did you create that?
The wool dress is made of merino wool fibers. The fiber itself can be split up so thin to a point that it looks thick and thin organically. The dress incorporates a number of different techniques of knitting. For example: free knitting at the top, finger knitting at the bottom and I used two knitting needles
for the sleeves. Since splitting the fibers was done manually there is no way to fully control the thickness of the wool, that's what gave it the wild look and prominent appearance I was aiming for.
In the other piece you created laser cut pants and a jacket that feel like the opposite of this organic piece.­ Is this intentional? What was the thought process behind this contrast in material and style? How does it blend with the rest of the collection?
The laser cutting idea was to produce a new look from the world of knitting. What started the project was the wool dress made of several classic knitting techniques. Then I went on to produce the next items, only now the wool accompanied them not being the sole material.
Actually, the laser cuts were made in accordance to knitting patterns, I found in my grandmother's house and knitting brochures I got from a woman very dear to me named Ida. I referred to the knitting instructions as images and I chose my way to interpret them. For example, I decided to thread wool into the laser cuts, wanting to find a new place. With my mother and grandmother, knitting won a place of honor. As the next generation I wanted to find a new place to use it and not necessarily in its classical form.
In other pieces of the collection, the wool does not appear in its classic shape but wrapped in silk that at first glance may be impossible to know for sure if it wool or print.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
Absolutely not. It came as a surprise, even to me. Only after completing my BA in Biology from Tel­ Aviv University did the desire to study fashion design began to nest in me.
What do you think makes a great designer?
The ability to move processes from beginning to end and to know what are your key elements which you should not compromise on. Finally, and most importantly, is to know how to accept criticism and grow from it.
Is there someone you would like to thank?
My dear husband, my parents. Their support is everything to me.
How was your experience studying at Bezalel?
Studying in Bezalel is very challenging. You constantly find yourself in a place where you need to re­invent yourself and be with your fingers on the pulse.
What are you future plans or goals? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
My goal is to design, simply design. Where will it be, and how will it be I do not know yet.
My Figurines
The collection was inspired by figurines – miniature porcelain figures used as decorations. In the course of the year I returned to my parents' home in order to photograph the figurines collection I kept as a child. This collection was always important to me but over time it was forgotten in boxes. When I examined the collection I discovered that unlike my nostalgic recollections, they are not classic porcelain figurines, but rather cheap copies manufactured in china. The project creates a new collection of figurines that playfully references the original collection and converts the miniature image to human scale. The garments are made of firm and shiny textiles that simulate the cold smooth texture of porcelain while the silhouettes are round and voluminous.
Images from the original collection underwent deconstruction and assembly and were printed on some of the garments.
Materials: plastic, PVC, polyester (scuba fabric), patent leather, satin drill, plastic beads, elastic plastic.
What was the process of designing this collection­- in stages?
The process of designing the collection began with researching the topic and photographing my childhood collection. When I returned to my parents’ home and found the box, I unfortunately found not a collection of delicate classic porcelain figurines but rather cheap imitations made in china. I transformed the photos with photoshop, printed the images and produced hand made collages (that were then experiments with plastic and lacquer trying to incorporate that decorative element of porcelain and produced textiles based on plastic and beading.) At the same time I made lots of sketches of different outfits. The process took about 5 months, the actual sewing and beading about 2 months.
I love the look with the rippled pink low neckline and white bottom.­ It feels very french to me, there is something romantic and dreamy about it, and looks plasticky/kinky at the same time. Where you looking to create these contrasts? What did you have in mind when designing it? How did you create it?
This specific dress was one of the very first sketches I made, it was very intuitive. I wanted a romantic image that would emphasize the body’s silhouette, round and somewhat futuristic. The plastic textile helps get that decorative plastic feel. The dress is made from synthetic textiles, plastic and fake pearl beads on the shoulders. In my sketch book there are no real fashion images but rather different artists that use figurines such as jessica harrison, jaime rayon, shary boyle and also designers whose styles I love such as Mary Latrantzou, Marni, Christopher Kane, and Rochas.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
I began drawing at a very young age and I always knew I would work in art and design. My dream as a child was to be a fashion designer and my love for fashion began very early. I soaked up  fashion aesthetic from home and would draw clothing designs from a very young age.
What do you think makes a great designer?
I think a good designer is someone who is attentive to their surroundings and is inspired from varied and diverse directions, not necessarily from the fashion world but even from small mundane things. A person who can ask questions and translate ideas into interesting products.
Is there someone you would like to thank?
I want to thank my parents and especially my mother who supported me mentally and physically, my friends who stood by me and, of course, my teacher, Yael who never gave up on me and mentored me in the best possible way.
How was your experience studying at Bezalel?
Bezalel was enriching and very topsy-turvy. I developed into a designer I never dreamed of becoming.
What are you future plans or goals? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Currently my goal is to begin an internship either in Israel or overseas and continue to develop and get more experience. There are other fields i’m interested in such as illustration and styling. In ten years time? To be doing what I love.
These are the works of two more young designers which time did not permit to interview.
The collection deals with my relationship with the garments and jewelry I own, and in a broader sense, with the nature of the relationship between an individual and his material surrounding throughout his life. The question that intrigued me the most involved the "day after": will our objects go on telling our story after our passing? As part of the research I staged photographs of self-­burial along with my belongings, scattered on and around my body. The collection is inspired by burial rituals in different traditions and cultures. The garments are made of various textiles that underwent hand processing and feature prints of images that depict me and my objects. The patterns are wide, wrap around the body and blur its original outlines, while the volumes build a new delineation that traces the objects that we carry on our bodies.
Materials: sponge, leather, aluminum, Perspex, Tyvek, canvas, plastic, nylon tulle, cotton, wool.
My Endless Childhood
The collection was inspired by my childhood in the 1990s, when we carried a Telecard in our wallets, wore colorful baggy clothes, and grunge music brought washed denim and flannel shirts into our lives; a time when my parents were still together, and with my sisters we all lived in the same house as a family. In the collection I sought to convey the feeling of family and childhood experience as well as the vibrant colors of those years. The garments are based on street style patterns and characterized by strong colors. Some were printed with digital prints of family photographs and dolls, and in some I incorporated objects from my childhood.
Materials: cotton, tulle, rubber, acrilan, wool, silicon threads, beads, POGs, cassettes.
Thank you very much to the wonderful and talented professors who helped throughout production for these two days, during the shootings, and later in the post production process­ I could have done it without you!
To the Tamara Yovel Jones, head of the department, who wanted me for the job in the first place, and was there every step of the way, Claudette Zorea who was at the same time a calming and energizing entity and my triumphing art director, Eliora Ginsburg, the piece and order keeper and lover of shoes wherever they are, Dana Hakim, who graciously helped with still life styling for all the objects shot with much patience, and finally Reuven Zahavi who lovingly helped in the post production logistics.