Grapevine: Fabulous fashion

Italian Embassy marks National Day, Judaica expert featured at Alyn fund-raiser and Museum of the Illegal Immigrant Ships to open in Atlit.

IN THE three decades since the opening of the first Super-Pharm pharmacy in Neveh Amirim, the chain has come a very long way, acknowledged Leon Koffler, whose grandfather of the same name set up two pharmacies in Toronto, which his father Murray Koffler developed into a chain of 17. Super-Pharm here has grown to some 140 stores, plus scores of stores in China and Poland. The expansion also included the introduction of Beauty City, which last week was held for the fourth consecutive year at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, and was something like a piece of paradise for appearance-conscious women.
Displays were much more spacious and luxurious than in stores, and in addition to cosmetics, included jewelry, accessories and clothing. There were lectures on various beauty related themes, endless opportunities for personal consultations, manicures and professional make-up applications and there were fashion shows. Israela Avtau, who is among the country’s highly successful international models, flew in from New York for the opening show, and rushed from there to the airport to catch a 1 a.m. flight back to the Big Apple. This year’s opening fashion show came straight from Hollywood’s red carpet, with models wearing some of the magnificent gowns that had been previously worn by Hollywood stars to the red carpet Oscar ceremonies.
Special guests included Max Ryan, who stars as Samantha’s latest male conquest in Sex and the City 2 and Merle Ginsberg, a Los Angeles-based journalist, editor, author and TV personality who has written on fashion, beauty and entertainment for some of the world’s most important magazines in these genres, had lots to say. This was her first visit, she said, confessing that in Hollywood she had allowed her religious identity to lapse, but was now reconnecting with her Jewishness.
It was easy to see why. The superbly cut evening gowns, fashioned from quality fabrics, and often featuring opulent fishtail skirts and elaborate bodices with amazing drape effects, were simply breathtaking.
The styles ranged from romantic to regal.
■ IN THE same week, Yaron Minkowski, one of the more successful Shenkar graduates, who only a week previously had shown some of his creations at the Shenkar 40th anniversary gala, exhibited a much larger collection at the WIZO Sponsor a Child benefit held in the garden of the Herzliya Pituah home of Ruth Cohen.
Journalists who managed to catch the tail end of the show, which was a study in black and featured sophisticated, almost classical cocktail and evening wear, stunning in simplicity of design, but alluring in the subtleties of the fabric play, joined in the chorus of appreciative exclamations by women around them. Proceeds from the event were ear-marked for the bar/bat mitzva celebrations of 500-600 youngsters from low-income, mostly single-parent families.
■ AND ONE last reference to fashion, with yet another Shenkar triumph in more ways than one.
Triumph, the veteran lingerie brand that is sold all over the world, encourages women to think of lingerie as an expression of themselves, and encourages young designers to enter the Triumph Inspiration Award in a quest for fresh perspectives, and to come up with a showpiece design. The winner, selected by a jury of world famous fashion experts, then has his or her entry commercialized and sold in selected Triumph stores around the globe.
Triumph Israel, working in cooperation with Shenkar’s Fashion Design Department, conducted the local aspect of the contest which culminated with a unique fashion show of lingerie which proved to be a triumph for fashion design student Karin Feldman, who was one of 10 students selected to show the lingerie designs inspired by historic icons. Feldman’s design was inspired by the high ruff collar made fashionable by Queen Elizabeth I. Feldman, 26, who lives in Ness Ziona, will compete against winners from design schools from some 30 other countries in the international design finals in London on September 16, on the eve of the opening of London Fashion Week.
Each year, the contest for the Triumph Inspiration Award is conducted within the framework of a design motto. This year’s motto is “Shape Sensation,” with the design focus on the shapes and curves that have inspired artists for centuries. Second and third prizes went to Daria Markova, 26, of Tel Aviv, who was inspired by German paper sculptor Simon Schubert; and Yael Drezin, 24, of Jerusalem, and Chen Bar-Kalifa, 24, of Tiberias, who were inspired by soap bubbles. All three received scholarships for the coming academic year.
■ THE SPEECHES at the Italian National Day receptions usually take place just as it gets dark. In the interim guests mingle on the spacious lawns and partake of the refreshments. This year was different because they were treated to a traditional Italian flag-throwing display by an octet of flag throwers and a lone drummer who had come from Italy for the occasion. Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo, while expressing Italy’s concern over the flotilla incident, hastened to give assurances of its continued friendship and support, and said that Italy has supported Israel in all international forums and that he personally had dedicated all his energies to strengthening relations between the two countries. There had been a wide range of exchanges over the past year he said, emphasizing that Italy is Israel’s number one partner in scientific cooperation.
He also thanked Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar for allowing Italian to be included as one of the language options in schools. He was very pleased to see Italy’s Undersecretary of State Stefania Craxi at the 64th anniversary celebrations of the Italian republic. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog represented the government.
■ ORDINARILY, EARLY arrivals for a reception at the residence of the British ambassador do not have to observe the rules of protocol and wait outside until the actual time designated on the invitation. This week the guard was adamant about keeping them outside. The reason became clear when Ambassador Tom Phillips rushed in a couple of minutes before 7 p.m. carrying a large, well filled bag on his shoulder. The occasion was part of his round of farewells, this time with the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association.
Once the formalities got under way, Phillips, with typical British understatement, said that the “the last four years have been interesting in the Chinese sense of the word.” He also referred to “the few bilateral hiccups” and noted that what doesn’t get into the press are all the positive things that are happening, especially the people-topeople relationships, such as those fostered by IBCA. When Phillips leaves at the end of July, he will not be going home to a desk job. He is being posted elsewhere, but is not yet at liberty to make the details public.
IBCA chairman Austen Science observed that as a representative of the government, Phillips had sometimes had to toe a line that did not always meet with the approval of IBCA members, but he had always been open to discuss the issues. Phillips, for whom this was a second tour of duty, said that he and his wife Anne had always wanted to come back, “and this was our right of return.” He made the point that for any diplomat, “Israel is not just another posting,” and said that he and his wife will keep up their links to Israel in the years ahead.
The event included an address by Yoram Yahav, a senior trade and industry adviser to the Israeli, Greek and US governments, and an exponent of the martial arts and a former member of Israel’s secret service.
Yahav is one of the developers of reverse futurism methodologies which involve the planning of possible future scenarios but treating them as if they had already happened as a preventive measure for future catastrophes on national, business, sports, team and personal levels.
■ GUESTS WHO attended the Alyn fundraiser at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem last week, enjoyed a riveting evening as Judaica expert William Gross explained the probable provenance of candlesticks, amulets, hanukkiot, etrog boxes and Kiddush cups, which were in most cases worth only a couple of hundred dollars.
With Judaica, he explained, both the financial worth and the aesthetic component are secondary to the meaning that the artifacts had in Jewish life. There is no such thing as Jewish style, he said, noting that all Jewish ritual objects are taken from the cultures in which Jews lived.
Some antique embroideries and an old Kiddush cup from Safed were valued at $3,000-$4,000, but Gross got really excited about a 300-year-old Amsterdam Haggada which its owner uses every Pessah. “Don’t use this any more,” he urged. Even though it has wine stains and the remains of matza crumbs, the Haggada is in excellent condition, and Gross wants it to stay that way.
He warned would-be collectors against buying Judaica in Spain or Poland which are both “full of fake Judaica.”
■ OVER THE past 100 years there has been a relatively large ratio of Jewish students at the St. John’s Tech School in Winnipeg, and of those Jewish students an appreciable number decided that their futures lay here.
When the school’s alumni held their 75th anniversary, some of those living in Israel celebrated twice, in that they went back to Winnipeg for the major celebration, and also celebrated with alumni living here. At that time, some 200 people showed up.
Organizers hope that there will be a lot more on hand for the 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated at the AACI’s Jerusalem headquarters in Talpiot on Thursday, June 24. For registration and further details, former students should contact Nomy Margolese (02) 581-9394 or Myrna Silverberg (09) 866-5715.
■ VICE PRIME Minister and Minister for Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom visited the Save a Child’s Heart division at the Wolfson Medical Center in Rehovot in advance of a project to be officially launched on June 20, whereby his ministry will fund lifesaving heart surgery for 100 children from the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Ethiopia and Eritrea. Shalom took time out to meet with children from the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Morocco, Africa and Romania, their mothers, medical staff and volunteers of Save a Child’s Heart. He also toured the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the children’s ward and took part in an activity done with the children by the SACH art and movement therapist. The youngsters presented him with a SACH Tshirt with all their handprints on it.
■ AFTER MORE than a decade of mixing business with friendship, the business relationship between PR celebrity Ran Rahav and Africa Israel has come to an end. Rahav released a statement last week in which he said that it had been a privilege to represent the company, through days of glory and days of hardship. He wished the company and the people who run it continuing success and emphasized that working with them had been a fascinating experience.
Rahav announced that his interim replacement would be Yael Apter of Gitam. The executive board of Africa Israel, headed by Lev Leviev expressed appreciation for Rahav’s dedicated service.
■ THE NEXT time the government needs some creative ideas, at least one of its ministers won't have to look far. Arele Kidron, the new son-in-law of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor and his wife Liora, is a copywriter at Adler Chomsky Warshavsky, a leading advertising agency. Kidron officially became a member of the Meridor family last week when he married Hamutal Meridor. Leora Meridor is a well-known, economist who has held various positions with the Bank of Israel and as a director of several companies, and is currently chairwoman of the Executive Council of Tel Aviv University. When not serving as a minister or MK, Dan Meridor has practiced law. Thus the guest list included a large representation of the legal community, including Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, politicians, the business community, academia and people from the advertising and public relations community.
■ SOME 200 decision makers in the field of education from approximately 40 countries, will participate in Yad Vashem’s Seventh International Conference on Holocaust Education and Remembrance, commencing Saturday night. Among the major questions to be addressed is how to cope with Holocaust denial, and whether it should be compulsory for high school students to visit Holocaust sites.
Among the speakers will be Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Prof. Alain Finkielkraut, Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Dr. Samuel Pisar, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, European MP Leonidas Donskis, former Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski, former Croatian president Stjepan Mesic and Prof. Dina Porat.
■ PRIME MINISTER Binyamin Netanyahu and Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat will be among the dignitaries attending the inauguration of the Museum of the Illegal Immigrant Ships in Atlit on Monday.
Atlit was the site of the notorious detention camps in which illegal immigrants, many of them Holocaust survivors, were incarcerated by the British Mandate authorities. On October 9, 1945, a daring Palmah operation resulted in the liberation of the prisoners.
Most of the area has been allocated to the Council for Israel Heritage Sites, and the area including the restored and preserved British military barracks was turned into a museum that tells the story of illegal immigration and the traumatic experiences of the illegal immigrants. Visitors can inspect the ships that brought the illegal immigrants to the Promised Land. Among the attendees will be some of the people who manned those ships, as well as the immigrants who sailed on them.
It’s a shame that Lova Eliav, who passed away last week, did not live to see the inauguration of the museum. It was on one of these ships that he met his wife Tanya. He was running an illegal immigrant operation on behalf of the Jewish Agency and she was a Holocaust survivor.
■ JAPANESE AMBASSADOR Haruhisa Takeuchi, who attended the opening ceremony of the jubilee celebrations of the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art in Haifa, expressed his deep respect and sincere appreciation for what the museum has done to promote Japanese culture during its 50 years of activity, and promised to maintain the embassy’s close partnership with the museum for the next 50 years. The embassy in cooperation with the Japan Foundation had assisted in arranging a special performance of Waidako (Japanese drum) by the Joji Hirota Taiko Ensemble. Among the guests were past and present mayors of Haifa Amram Mitzna and Yona Yahav.