Freelancer Jessica Steinberg knows her Israeli fashion. After all, she is the Womens Wear Daily correspondent for Israel. She was there when Donna Karan made an appearance at the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design. And she’s written about the family that owns the extremely popular Castro retail chain in Israel.
So I was thrilled when I came upon another fashion article by Jessica (who is quite friendly and helpful in person, mind you. I’ve met with her) This one–for Israel21c–named Israel’s top 10 fashion designers in the business (in Israel and around the world.) Each of them have only been in the business for a decade or less, but they are topping the charts.
Here’s what else you should know about them:
- Many of them are graduates of Israel’s best fashion education centers: Shenkar College of Engineering and Design or Hebrew University’s Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design, but some of them are self-taught.
- Many of them started by simply selling clothes out of their apartment, which is still a common occurrence among designers and labels, at least here in Tel Aviv.
- Many of them rent studio space in industry central areas like Dizengoff, Gan Hahashmal, or Jaffa.
- If (and when) they branch out to the international world, they often encounter lots of bureaucracy and costs and often have a distributor in each subsequent international location ready to help them get through the problems.
So here they are, a brief listing of the top 10 Israeli designers according to Jessica and Israel21c. Since I definitely want you to head on over and read the article, I’m only writing up my opinion on what Jessica said about each.
1: Ronen Chen
The article says Ronen Chen may be Israel’s best-known fashion name abroad. Not sure if I agree but maybe. While his clothing is designed for the “urban woman,” I think the look is overall classic, clean, understated and not something for the woman who wants to be loudand bold and make a statement with her clothing. At least not at my age. My mother? Perhaps. Lots of basic pieces and simple solid-colored dresses. Geometric prints and shapes abound, but again they are understated. Still, you can find pieces to layer into your wardrobe. But kudos to Chen for making it this far. He’s a well-known name here.
2: Mirit Weinstock
She’s a lovely lady and one of my favorites. You would know if you read this blog frequently, I’ve mentioned her countless times! What I absolutely love about Mirit Weinstock is that her pieces are made of high-end quality materials like silk and satin and her clothing is cut and draped in such a way that seems effortless but in actuality, takes a lot of work. Her pieces quite feminine, flirty, Victorian, romantic, but occasionally she’ll offer a contradiction with a bold urban feather necklace, a pleated dress, or a drop-waist frock in a bold neon color.
3: Kedem Sasson
I thought plus-size or full-figured girls in Israel could only go to places like Golbary or ML. Boy, how wrong I was! There’s something for everyone, even the girl who wants to go high-end. There’s a funny little story in the piece about how he got into the fashion design business simply because his curvy wife didn’t have any options. Kedem gives shapely girls a chance to retain that shape with patterns and great floaty fabric. But I’m not sure if a twentysomething would go for it. It looks like it would be for an older woman or at least 35 and up. Kedem Sasson also sells outside Israel.
4: Yigal Azrouel
Well, well, well, if you don’t know who this is, then perhaps you’re a fashionista who’s been living under a rock. We’ve heard of great Israeli designers like Elie Tahari and Alber Elbaz and now you can add Yigal Azrouel to the list because he’s been quite a fixture on the NY Fashion Week scene. He’s quite well known in the States especially among celebs like Salma Hayak and Sarah Jessica Parker. American reality tv star and designer Whitney Port just wore a Yigal Azrouel dress to the MTV Movie Awards. Funny thing is, Yigal has no formal training–only fabulous feminine draping techniques!
5: Gal Feldman
Gal Feldman wasn’ t supposed to be a bag designer, but she created one for utility purposes (read on in the article for further explanation) and a subsequent bag career was born. Each bag is no individually created. She imports beautiful Italian leather and has a studio in Tel Aviv, but also sells outside Israel. Her designs are textured, innovative, and overall, stylish but not the norm. They are not what you call “classic handbags” but that makes them all the more special. She also has a wallet collection.
6: Frau Blau
Helena Blaustein and Philip Blau picked up and moved their Frau Blau shop to the Gan Hahashmal neighborhood before it was the indie fashion neighborhood for the Israeli hipster set. And it’s the perfect for the offbeat, urban, and whimsical pieces of their collection. They do big graphics and use lifelike prints and materials. They’re also slightly goth in a femme sense. (Just take a look at their newest collection above!) They are best known for their dresses, which are structured and cut urban chic with bits of flouncy exaggerations thrown in.
7: Dorin Frankfurt
Dorin Frankfurt reminds me of Ronen Chen in a sense because her clothes are also simple, classic, modest, and understated. But they’re also cater much more to the lady in all of us. She uses a lot of flower patterns and easy prints, creates a lot of dresses that could be mistaken for vintage from the ’40s. She was also one of the first in Israel to do jeans for women. Interestingly enough, her designs cater to a local community–for example, you’ll find the clothes in her Jerusalem locations are much more below-the elbow shirt, below-the-knee skirt oriented. Still, her Diznegoff/Ben Gurion location is quite modest, with the only diffence being shorter sleeves and hemlines and brigther colors.
8: Hagar Satat
I first learned of Hagar Satat while typing away about Israeli accessories designers and products for a cool Israeli fashion accessories site called Coolil. Little did I know she was such a hot commodity. She is unique in the way she has interwoven leather, silver, and gold throughout various necklaces, bracelets and jewelry. Little did we all know that these materials would each complement each other in such a stylish way.
9: Agas and Tamar
While Coolil sells Israeli jewelry online, Agas and Tamar (Einat Agassi and Tamar Harel-Klein) are one of few Israeli brands to have their own store outside Israel. They have a shop in the Soho neighborhood in New York City. Not only that, but they are worn by the likes of Demi Moore and Debra Messing. They also sell in the artsy old neigborhood of Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv, which is quickly becoming a posh location for art jewelry. The jewelry is bibically inspired, but it’s not your typical Judaica. It has a raw, ancient look with lettering or wording in Hebrew or the ancient Sumerian language offering blessings.
10: Naama Bezalel
Perhaps you would call Naama Bezalel a vintage chain? Although I’m not so sure she would be happy with that description–that’s essentially what she is. She’s an Israeli designer with chains throughout Israel who’s dresses, skirts, blouses and wedding dresses are 40s, 50s, and 60-inspired and contain lots of vintage and retro touches. Critics have said that her clothes go back to the true innocent beginnings of Israeli statehood. Pioneer chic perhaps? With a modern twist, of course.
Stay tuned for a post on more designers that should have been on the list!!
Source: Israel21c-Jessica Steinberg