Style Junkie: The collector’s collection

Walking into acclaimed fashion designer Naama Bezalel’s office is like taking a journey into the whimsical 1950s.

Naama Bezalel office 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Naama Bezalel office 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Walking into Naama Bezalel’s office is like slipping into a time capsule of a whimsical 1950s teenager. From the lemon yellow wallpaper to the light-blue enamel covering her desk to the stained-white vanity, every inch of Bezalel’s space feels like a walk down memory lane. The most eye-catching element of her office is a large, refurbished bookshelf, which holds hundreds of vintage toys, dolls and tins.
Like many children, Bezalel was encouraged by her parents to collect objects. While most of her friends gave up their books of stamps or baby-dolls forever, Bezalel stayed true to her trinkets. “I was a collector as a child.
Then I took a long break from it and after I finished at Shenkar [College of Engineering and Design] a friend of mine dragged me to the flea market in Jaffa. I got there and I was completed entranced. It was a very strong experience for me. I got addicted to the whole thing. Now, when I go to markets I look for objects for the decoration of the stores.
When I look for myself… well, I have a huge collection of toys,” she smiled.
“These days I look for dishes, glass and porcelain,” she said. As she spoke, she indicated a small gathering of colorful blown-glass ashtrays seated atop her vanity table.
Bezalel is one of Israel’s top designers, with 10 stores around the country plus a warehouse and factory shop in Givatayim. Her brand currently includes women’s clothing, bridal gowns and accessories and cosmetics, all of which are manufactured in Israel.
In the past, she sold a line of children’s clothes called Naamonet, which was inspired by her second of three children and her only girl. She also sold stationery, however, due to time constraints, she had to shelve both of these projects alongside her beloved collectibles.
A self-proclaimed tomboy, Bezalel most enjoys making dresses. “I never wear dresses,” she said. “At best, I’ll put on a skirt, but that’s rare. I can’t explain it but I am very drawn to making dresses, and in the winter, coats.”
Her designs are quietly feminine, modest yet flirty.
She puts out two full collections each year, which she keeps track of, using corkboards, tacks and small pieces of paper onto which she draws each silhouette.
These sketches mean little to anyone other than Bezalel; however, they allow her to keep her line internally organized. “It’s like a puzzle,” she explained. When we met, she was about to say goodbye to her winter chart and get organized with the summer one.
Unlike those of many of her contemporaries, Bezalel’s collections are ongoing projects.
“The collection doesn’t come in at the beginning of the season and stop there.
Throughout the season, new pieces trickle into the store all the time. Only at the end of each season is the collection perfect and complete. I keep working on the clothes all the time, even if the collection is already out,” she explained.
Next month, Bezalel will begin working on the winter line, which will be available in stores in September. By October, the line will be complete. Then, in November she will get to work on summer. “It’s one of the most endless and Sisyphean professions in the world.
With the cosmetics, I can sell the same product for years.
With fashion, you can’t do that. You always have to create, reinvent, refresh. It never ends,” she laughed.
In recent years, Bezalel has taken to designing ready-towear wedding dresses. Much like her everyday clothing, Bezalel’s wedding line is nostalgic and practical. Layers of tulle and frilly bows are not in stock at her stores.
“Our dresses are sold right off the hanger. We do tailor them, if needed. But my brides are women who take the whole gown thing lightly,” she said. “The dresses are for brides who want to be comfortable and pretty.”
While Bezalel’s style evokes characters like Betty Draper and Lucille Ball, her customers are modern women who have many options at their fingertips. Continuing to engage and excite this band of women can be tricky, she explained. “I’m not doing futuristic fashion,” she said. “People say that I have a very clear language.
What challenges me is, while staying true to myself, which is very important to me, to surprise my clients. I don’t want to repeat myself so I constantly have to reinvent my own wheel. Again, I’m not trying to re-imagine anything. My style isn’t avant-garde.”
That said, Bezalel has succeeded in winning the hearts of many a local woman. “I think that because I live here, I understand the body and needs of the Israeli woman,” she said. “I give them solutions to a lot of their clothing needs.” Her designs suit all body types, not necessarily favoring the six-foot-tall, rail thin models of fashion magazines.
“My customer is a mature, intelligent woman with presence and personal style,” she declared.
Naama Bezalel products can be viewed online at