March 11 marked the beginning of Tel Aviv Fashion Week and, for several days, all eyes were on Israel’s fresh and neoteric fashion scene. Up and coming designers like Oria Azran, Alon Livne, and Shai Shalom presented their latest creations to an expectant public, in a vibrant show of eclectic cuts and colors. This year, apart from the usual trends that journalists and fashion enthusiasts have come to expect, Tel Avid Fashion Week also served as a platform for promoting inclusivity and acceptance, where designers challenged adamant fashion principles and advocated for change.
Oberson’s catwalk swan song
The show kicked off on a bittersweet note, as the opening night marked the final catwalk collection from Oberson House of Design, represented by iconic Israeli fashion designer Gideon Oberson and his daughter Karen Oberson. A prominent presence on the local fashion scene since 1962, Oberson has had a major role in the evolution of Israeli fashion, making his mark with swimwear, ready to wear, and couture collections. A few days prior to the show, Oberson received a lifetime achievement award from Israel’s Ministry of Culture and Sport.
This year’s presentation wasn’t mean to launch anything new. Instead, it was more of a legacy, as Oberson describes it, a visual summary of his work, which is a celebration of femininity in all its shapes and sizes. His final catwalk show had nothing to do with the present season. On the contrary, it was a visual reminiscence of how the house evolved over the years. The models who took part in this “finale” weren’t randomly chosen either. All those who wore Oberson’s creations were models who have been with the house since its inception. The oldest one was 71 years old!
Israel and the no-fuss glam
Whether it’s in London, Paris, New York, Milan or Tel Aviv, every Fashion Week is an occasion for designers to create new trends, experiment with colors, cuts, and textures and bring forth glam outfits that shock and inspire. This year was no exception. One of the highlights of the event was Shahar Avent, whose youthful combinations between tulle and streetwear were a visual representation of Tel Aviv’s dynamic energy. Set against an urban music soundtrack, the designs had an uncomplicated edginess about them and played on the fusion between edgy and delicate. Bridal tulle skirts and black belts, pearls and sneakers, these unlikely combinations graced the catwalk in a dazzling show that set a new standard.
Carelessness and functionality are consistent with Tel Aviv’s general fashion vibe, which focuses on versatility, ease of wear, and understated elegance. Israel is home to some of the most prominent fashion talent in the world and graduates of the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design are a breath of fresh air for the Israeli fashion scene. Just like in the previous years, the 2019 Tel Aviv Fashion Week advocated for the principles of Israeli fashion: comfortable, functional, easy to wear. Dror Kontento’s creations stood out through the way they combined elegant, fluid, cuts with traditional motifs that honored Jewish culture.
Young Israeli designers embraced their Mediterranean roots by creating understated clothing that makes a statement without being controversial. Dictated mostly by the hot climate and the dry landscape that consists of 60% desert, Israeli fashion is all about breathable fabrics (linen, cotton, silk) and loose cuts. Most of the time, the designs are complemented by timeless pearl earrings and understated jewelry, nonchalant hairstyles, natural make-up, and functional accessories.
In its essence, Tel Aviv is a young, vibrant, improvised city, and this kind of spontaneity was present at the 2019 Fashion Week. Unisex, oversized clothing was the main motif, designers also adding their social commentary on gender norms and body positivity.
Banahot’s swimwear collection sparked a conversion on body acceptance
Although body-positive fashion brands are starting to gain traction, most runway events stick to the classic formula of gender-binary, tall, skinny models. Taking inspiration from the widely acclaimed body positive movement at the 2018 NY Fashion Week, Israeli designer Bananhot launched a new swimwear collection that fits all women, regardless of their body type.
One after another, models of all sizes rocked the designer’s handmade swimwear designs, which featured tops with racy cuts and form-fitting bikinis. The start of Bananhot’s show was last year’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai, who glowed in a neon one-piece with a plunging neckline and a waist-cinching band.
Before the event, one spokesperson said that Tel Aviv Fashion Week 2019 wanted to change the status quo, start a conversion on body positivity and dispel the myth that fashion is just for a select audience:
“This year, we continue to promote the changing theme of the ‘ideal of beauty’ with the participation of models of all ages, sizes, heights, colors and religions to continue to take part.”