A golden ticket to the runway

A national lottery project will see seven young fashion designers on the stage at the prestigious Gindi Fashion Week.

Dolin Melnick (photo credit: Courtesy)
Dolin Melnick
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The nice thing about Dolin Melnick ’ s job is that she is constantly redefining its description.
In the four-plus years that Melnick has served as the director of the Arts and Culture Branch of the Mifal Hapayis national lottery, she has managed to expand, edit and maximize the organization’s project scope.
“Every year, we redefine our path,” explained Melnick. A petite woman with long brown hair and a quick smile, Melnick has the ability to change the lives of many artists each and every year.
“We can’t support everyone, so the question is where and how we distribute our efforts. We are very flexible in our way of working. We can respond immediately to the reality of Israeli culture, which is a bit hyperactive, but it’s also affective and exciting.”
This year, Melnick’s office received over 1,500 proposals for projects – an enormous number considering the handful of staff that sat and reviewed the gargantuan pile of pages. The lottery provides support for independent projects rather than organizations.
In addition to the established projects, once a year, the lottery puts out an open call for new project proposals.
“We ask the public to tell us about needs that exist, about fields that are currently unsupported by the established channels and about ideas for new initiatives,” she detailed.
In the 14 years that the Arts and Culture Branch has existed, it has managed to promote advancements in fields ranging from poetry to dance to visual arts. One field the lottery is currently taking under its wing is the circus; another is fashion.
Last month, Melnick put out the first invitation for applications to a groundbreaking design project – one that will see seven young fashion designers onto the stage at the prestigious Gindi Fashion Week come October.
“Until now, there has been no institutionalized or government support for the fashion industry. What the Arts and Culture Branch is doing is looking for niches that no one else takes care of. For some time now, we have debated whether to get involved in fashion; eventually, we decided we should. There is a lot of creation going on, a lot of hunger for design and a serious lack of assistance in this area.”
When putting together the pieces of her first-ever fashion project, Melnick met with experts from leading universities and fashion houses to discuss the needs and challenges facing designers.
“We spoke with people from Bezalel [Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem] and Shenkar [College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan], and asked them to tell us what is really missing for their graduates.”
What Melnick discovered was lacking, beyond financial support, was guidance.
“Designers who are just coming out of school receive a lot of professional knowledge during their studies, but are often in the dark when it comes to business planning.
What we are offering in this project is not just money, it’s artistic and business mentoring with leaders in the field.
All of these elements are, of course, optional.
We won’t force them on anyone.”
Another missing element in the field is the sense of community.
While fashion designers may meet one another at runway shows or store openings, they very seldom have the opportunity to bounce ideas off one another.
“We want to create a little community with this project, that these seven designers will not only receive funding but a chance to interact with one another,” added Melnick.
The project is open to Israeli designers who have been active in the industry for no less than three and no more than five years. Out of the group of applicants, which Melnick estimates will reach around 80 or 90 individuals (though she admits to having no concrete way of knowing how many will apply), up to seven designers will be selected.
A panel of industry elites including Sasson Kedem, Dorin Frankfurt, Maya Negri, Moti Reif, Yosef Dadon and Shachar Atwan will review the portfolios and choose the participants.
The selected candidates will receive up to NIS 150,000 and will have three months (from mid-July to mid-October) to create a 10-look collection, which will be shown at fashion week. These looks will then be put on-sale in a store in the brand-new Gindi Fashion Mall, which is set to open in March.
“The collections will all be clothing, no bathing suits and no bridal,” smiled Melnick.
The amount of funding, she stressed, was carefully thought out to allow the designers to create without worrying too much about the bottom line.
“It’s important for me to note that we never give 100 percent of the budget required for the projects that we support.
Our artists are able to fund-raise on their own; that’s an integral skill to success. The grant on this project will most likely cover around 90%, which is a very big chunk for us.”
As for the outcome, Melnick is on the edge of her seat.
“This project is our pilot. We are learning a lot along the way, and will continue to learn as we go. I can’t wait to see who applies and what they’ll make of this opportunity.”
For more information about the national lottery and its projects, visit www.pais.co.il.