Saturday, November 26, 2011

Israel wants to make it big in fashion too

After two years of preparation and strong support from Italy, the first Israel Fashion Week in thirty years came this week to Neve Tzedek, the hip neighborhood in Tel Aviv. For three days, media, models, and designers highlighted Israeli and Italian fashion.

It’s not that Israeli designers are unknown to the world’s fashion mavens. Some of them are known, but more on an individual basis than as a collective. Just as Italy and France are known as fashion countries, aside from the kudos given to individual designers, so Israel is known as a hi-tech country, as Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai mentioned at a reception hosted by Italian Ambassador Luigi Mattiolo to mark the launch of the project. The Italian ambassador was involved because Tel Aviv and Milan are twin cities. Also, the creator of of the garments in the gala fashion show paraded on Monday night at the old Jaffa Railway Station, which has been turned into a lifestyle hub and a major tourist attraction, was one of Italy’s leading fashion luminaries, Roberto Cavalli.

Three decades ago, when Israel fashion weeks were the glitz and glitter of the industry, they were held in hotels – primarily in Tel Aviv, but also in Jerusalem and Eilat. Asked if there was a special reason for holding the Tel Aviv Fashion Week at the rail station, Lev said that in a previous era hotel rooms were turned into showrooms, but fashion is much more than that. It lends itself to lifestyle and lifestyle includes tourism. Indeed, the Ministry of Tourism is a major partner in the venture and brought 60 leading international fashion and lifestyle journalists to Israel to not only cover the fashion week but to tour the country and see how different it is to what is portrayed on television screens back home.

This is in line with the ministry’s new focus on lifestyle and niche tourism. Without the publicity that will be generated abroad by these journalists, Fashion Week would be a flop. Many visiting journalists were already busy with their laptops on Monday morning. At the reception at his residence Sunday, Mattiolo expressed heartfelt appreciation to Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov. Silvan Shalom, minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee, who was the guest speaker at the reception said “Fashion Week gives us a chance to show the other side of Israel, which we would like the world to recognize.”

Future Tel Aviv Fashion Weeks will also have an Italian star component. There will be two Tel Aviv Fashion Weeks each year – one spring/summer and the other fall/winter. And plans are already afoot to show the fall/winter creations in April 2012.

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