Israeli designer creates fashion line inspired by Hezbollah tunnels

Efrat Kalig said her new collection was motivated by the fear and emotion experienced during Operation Northern Shield.

Noam Frost models items from Efrat Kalig's latest collection (photo credit: DVIR KAHLON)
Noam Frost models items from Efrat Kalig's latest collection
(photo credit: DVIR KAHLON)
Israeli couture fashion designer Efrat Kalig usually creates her collections of high-end evening wear and bridal gowns from a place of joy and love.
But one of her most recent lines of evening gowns, which she revealed for the first time earlier this month, was inspired by the fear and emotion she felt last year when the IDF uncovered a series of Hezbollah attack tunnels along the northern border.
Kalig, who had recently had her fourth child, said she was taken aback by her visceral response to the IDF operation.
“I was starting to work on the collection, and working on dresses that were black, and sparkling, and all of a sudden they announced a tunnel, and more tunnels, and then another tunnel and... I went into a sort of crazy panic,” she told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview.
Kalig said she found it hard to reconcile her lush surroundings – in a design studio in the heart of Tel Aviv’s upscale fashion district – with the situation up North.
“It really threw me, I had a lump in my throat, I felt stuck – I didn’t know what to do with myself,” she said. “I couldn’t manage to shake it off.” Instead, she said, “I decided to make lemonade out of lemons,” and to throw herself into a collection inspired by her feelings and the situation.
“The tunnels have already become a linguistic currency in our lexicon, and are part of the Israeli reality, and that reality creates a culture that can not be ignored,” she said. “Fashion is not detached from that reality, and it is influenced by the same cultural motifs and by the security mood in the country.”
Kalig, who studied fashion design in Paris and lived and worked there for 15 years – including at Dior – chose to return Israel to live and raise her family.
“I made the choice myself to leave Europe, leave my fashion house and return to Israel, live here and raise a family here,” she said. “There is nowhere else like Israel, even with the fear and the uncertainty.”
The newest collection, Kalig said, is based on olive green, the color of IDF uniforms, a hue the designer said she’d never used before in her upscale designs.
“I never once used it – it’s a color that is a very sad color for evening wear,” she said. “But I really went on a journey and I took on the challenge and made the most of it.”
Kalig said she had fabric made that combined different colors of olive green to give it a dark, deep color, echoing the darkness of the tunnels. She also included sand colors, touches of lone spotlights and adornments reminiscent of ammunition belts.
As for any potential criticism of insensitivity or poor taste, Kalig is undeterred.
“I always listen first of all to myself,” she said, “and not to other noise around me... there’s always criticism and of course this is a sensitive topic, but I followed my heart, and I followed my emotions.”