Future fashionistas

From urban street wear to elaborate formals, Shenkar grads' creations unveiled recently were knockouts.

eFRAT zIV fashion 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
eFRAT zIV fashion 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If you were asked to come up with a list of adjectives describing the Shenkar fashion show this summer, unoriginal would not be on it. Of the 32 graduates who presented their work on the sleek runway in a hall near Rishpon decorated especially well for the glitzy show, not a single one could be accused of making drab clothing. Extraterrestrial, bizarre, stunning and delicate all spring to mind, but not boring, which might be why identifying similar themes or underlying elements in this collection is an impossible task. Each and every young designer spoke a different language and had different philosophies about clothing. Each one used different fabrics, colors, cuts, prints and lines. Even the seasons lost their relevance. This wasn't a summer, spring, fall or winter collection. There were no neat divisions between prêt à porter and haute couture. The switch between masculine, aviation-like threads in deep shades of black, gray and brown and barely-there peach, cream and silver silk gowns was dizzying. And this, according to Lea Peretz, head of the fashion design department at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, is exactly what makes it special. "The only unifying element in this collection of graduates is the individuality of each one," she says. "We spend four years teaching them how to be unique and creative and this show is the culmination of that work." Sponsored by Honigman, Shuki Zikri and MAC makeup, this show, despite its vast array of designs, was similar to any other professional fashion production. Stylishly dressed celebrities and famous designers floated around greeting friends with butterfly kisses. Nervous producers with microphones in one ear paced beside the runway asking people for the fifth time to please take their seats. An army of cameramen at the end of the runway tinkered with tripods and flashes, while a string of journalists with front-row seats jotted down their impressions. The clean white walls, chairs and ceiling of the spacious room were illuminated with soft blue lights. Giant speakers played a calming tune as people filed in and found their seats. By the time the already dim lights faded to blackness and the music stopped, the tense excitement in the air was palpable. Once the credits and thanks had been properly bestowed, the show began with a bang. Five slender models engulfed in Efrat Ziv's balloon dresses with sweet floral prints walked out gracefully, posing slyly for the cameras. Then came Jan Pharchi's embroidered jacket with a sober-colored bird beak stretching over the entire face and paired with brightly-colored, candy-cane-striped pants. Every two minutes, a new set of funky designer clothes emerged. There were wannabe pants attached at the ankles fit for a mermaid and airy, chiffon dresses sparkling with LED lights and long plastic tubes. Knotted layer upon layer of material in one dress had a suspicious resemblance to the pelt of a Hungarian sheepdog, while shiny, silver-and-pink jackets with rabbit ears looked like circus costumes. There were avian-like ensembles for men headed straight into Roman warfare, and gigantic, egg-shell-like coverings fit for a character out of Star Wars. Dressed in everything from urban street wear to elaborate formals - with just about everything in between - the models strutted their stuff. For Lev Novikov, whose Drill Weave winter collection for men is highly wearable but maintains an original look, the inspiration came from hard-working men of strength, like coal miners and soldiers. "Too many of the collections for men these days aren't masculine enough, so I decided to design clothes that are masculine and that I would like to wear myself," he says over the phone as a radio crackles in the distance. "I'm an officer in the army, so I'm in Hebron right now." In fact, Novikov says that being on reserve duty and maintaining close contact with military men influenced his designs, which are largely black and gray cottons that flatter the body and have stylish lines without losing their virility. A strong masculinity also runs through Ya'ara Netzer's designs, but her urban street wear, which incorporates recycled trash bags and the inner tubes of tires in woven shawls, is for women. "My clothes are for day-to-day life, and what interests me is how I can use material that has been thrown away and is no longer considered valuable and find a different use for it in a ready-to-wear piece of clothing," she says. In addition to the weaving, Netzer experimented with colorful, digital printing on some material, like a pair of white pants with a gigantic black zipper down the side of each leg that forms a small pocket. Tal Navon's casual, summery designs made of natural materials such as cotton and wool, also focused on an element of recycling. "It was very important for me to recycle materials to make something new and beautiful," says the 27-year-old. "Everyone should be thinking about how they can recycle and use things again." Navon's delicate, feminine dresses and tops knitted together wool in interesting "loopy" designs. At the opposite end of the all-natural, casual fashion spectrum is the stunning work of Sharon Tal, whose elaborate "plastic" dresses combine the world of haute couture with the techniques of modern technology in a highly unusual way. "I called these designs Mass Couture because the process combines mass production with high-end, hand-made haute couture," says the 26-year-old, whose innovative technique is currently under review for a patent in the US. Inspired by the elaborate, over-the-top Rococo period, her garments mold plastic into lacy patterns that are injected into the material. The plastic infusion lends the clothing an intricate lace design that can be combined with hand-made lace, beads, stones and sequins. "My idea is that the Mass Couture technology will enable achievement of this high standard in less time, in larger quantities and with cheaper costs, similar to the production process of products like chairs, boxes and bathroom rugs," she explains. Tal believes that this type of clothing, which fuses a long lost world of "all things handmade" with the ultra-contemporary trend of factory production, is the wave of the future. Whether or not the fashion world will really adopt this technique remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: The Shenkar graduates of 2008 put on a damn good show.