Israeli Fashion Takes Center Stage
Produced by Moment with the support of The Israel Ministry of Tourism
If sabra chic once meant kibbutznik khaki, it certainly doesn’t today: Try sexy, innovative, sophisticated, multicultural—and infused with a quintessentially Israeli chutzpah.
While there has long been a fledgling Holy Land fashion scene, the look Israelis usually went for was more pioneer than couture. But times have changed, and Israel has changed along with them. Once-provincial Tel Aviv has landed on high-fashion runways, and Israeli designers are making statements the world over.
Israeli fashion designer Inbal Dror announced in May that she will be designing a line of dresses for singer Beyoncé’s world tour. Dror, a graduate of the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Ramat-Gan, who perfected her craft in Milan, was also Beyoncé’s choice for this year’s Grammy Awards (1), where she presented Record of the Year while wearing a high-neck, low-back Dror wedding gown.
Dror isn’t the only Israeli designer to catch Beyoncé’s eye: On her 2013 world tour, the megastar wore a striking red outfit created by another Israeli,Alon Livne. Livne, who began his career when he was 17 years old, trained at Alexander McQueen and Roberto Cavalli before winning Israel’s version of Project Runway in 2009. The young designer’s intricate, sculptural clothing has been snapped up by the likes of model Naomi Campbell and actress Lea Michele, and he even outfitted rapper Iggy Azalea (2) in one of his cutout leotards for a cover shoot for Cosmopolitan. Celebrities are also lining up for Israeli designers with more unorthodox fashion pedigrees: With no formal training, New York-based Yigal Azrouel has made a name for himself with avant-garde, feminine and flattering designs (3). Actresses Salma Hayek, Jennifer Connelly, and Sarah Jessica Parker are among his fans. Younger faces are also making their mark. Designer Idan Cohen, who graduated in 2011 from the prestigious Istituto Marangoni in London, has dressed everyone from rapper Nicki Minaj to actress Laverne Cox (4).
Bridal fashion (5) is now an Israeli export, too—though these form-fitting dresses have little in common with the traditional white gowns of Jewish mothers’ dreams. A recent New York Times article described Israeli wedding gowns as leading the way for a “sexier bridal aesthetic.” Israel’s bridal industry “has captured the world’s attention and is reported to be valued at billions of shekels” says journalist Anne Kleinberg, writing for a Jewish wedding blog. “The wedding gown creations of Israel’s designers are nothing less than stunning and they are being paraded out onto the world’s catwalks and red carpets—big time.”
These eye-catching outfits, however, don’t come cheap. You can expect to pay up if you want to walk down the aisle in one of these creations. Livne will rent you one of his wedding gowns for between $3,500 and $9,000; add an additional 30 percent if you want to actually own it. Dror’s gowns cost between $9,000 and $12,000, while Baliti and Zwillinger designs can run $7,000 to $12,000. And then there are the Israeli shoes that Lady Gaga loves—no, not the kibbutznik’s two-strap sandal, but Kobi Levi’s wild creations (6), dubbed “shoe creatures” and “wearable sculptures.” These include a stiletto in the shape of a flamingo and a cat whose legs form the heel as it stretches. It’ll cost you to walk in Levi’s shoes: The flamingos stand tall and graceful at $1,960, while the kitty heels—aptly named the “Miao”—list at $2,100.