When I have get a coffee date with designer and former Israel Project Runway contestant Yoav Meir, I’m expecting him to show up in something flashy. After all, the current host of theIsraeli E! Channel’s Ofna Urbanit (Urban Fashion) is known for his outrageous style. He’ll often be seen wearing large gold chains, big plastic earrings, or loud colors.
When he shows up in a toned down version of his typical non conventional look, I have to ask why. Meir says there’s two reasons. 1) He usually dresses up more for tv and 2) His style very often depends on his mood for the day. Sometimes he’ll go all out and sometimes he’ll keep it casual.
Sounds like you and me right? But this Israeli fashion celeb is not like us.
He retells the story of one of his best examples of what his style’s really like:
“I’m part of this Israeli talent agency, which includes lots of models. So we all had to go on this trip once and I was surrounded by all these beautiful people. So I thought, ‘I can be beautiful, too’ and I wore a wore a giant floppy pink hat to walk around with them.”
Despite his colorful approach to life, in truth Yoav is just a quiet person trying to survive like everyone else. He says he was always the quiet student during classes at Shenkar School of Engineering and Design but that he wanted to start showcasing more of his inner feelings. He thought, “I’m a colorful, happy person on the inside, why can’t I show that on the outside, too?” So he started putting on the earrings…and the chains…and the rings…and the rest you could say, is history.
“If I don’t live life 100 percent, it’s not worth it,” Yoav adds.
The fan favorite (who randomly gets stopped in clothing stores like H&M for photographs with Israelis who have seen him on tv) is the 6th contestant to be eliminated on Israel’s Project Runway and has since completed his first season on Israel’s E! channel as the host of Ofna Urbanit, a show about Israeli street style. He also regularly appears on Israel’s music channel, 24, to give commentary on what Israeli celebs like Ninet Tayeb, are wearing and why.
Yoav, who counts Keira Knightley and Christian Dior as style influences, says that Israeli fashion is a bit of a mashup. There is lots of culture in it, including everything from Europe in the 50s to the style of the kibbutz pioneer. Still, he wishes the people outside the “coffeehouse culture” of Tel Aviv would care more about their style.
“Outside of Tel Aviv, a lot of people dress just to dress,” he says, “They don’t have time to deal with it.”
Still, he loves how Israeli don’t sell themselves short in the comfort department. “I love how people are concerned with comfort and don’t sell themselves to look good. There is a place for everything and people know what they want. People are very awake here. You can’t fool us. You can’t bring a 5 inch heel to Israel and tell girls it’s comfortable,” says Yoav.
He counts singer Efrat Gosh and actresses Yael Poliakov and Dorit Bar-Or among the most fashionable women in Israel. He also mentions an Israeli shop called Lilamist as one of his favorites. Everything there is very big, standout, and feminine.
While I found his perception on Israeli fashion to be quiet accurate, I did have to disagree with him on one aspect. “Israelis don’t take things to the extreme,” Yoav says, “They don’t go all out with trends and I mean that as a compliment. But they do make outfits seem easy compared to Americans,” he added. Not true, I counter. I get ready to offer my two cents, but have to stop and smile at that as I have been writing that last bit about making outfits seem effortless on this very blog for quite some time now.
Last but not least, Yoav Meir is also a budding fashion designer for women, who deserves to be recognized for more then his out-of-the-box fashion, winning personality, and stylist tendencies. While he’s not afraid of playing with his own femme side, he also likes creating something for women that is stylish and sexy without showcasing too much cleavage or pushing the envelope in the revealing department.
While he talks of a soon-to-be winter collection that will be inspired by the religious–with lots of modest looks, though in bolder colors like black, white, fuchsia, and baby pink–his summer pieces are completely different–very 50s pop culture and include lots of tanks and tops that are simple, communicative, stylish, and sleek but not overtly sexy.
He’s obviously quite versatile in both looks, style, and design.
Yoav drew a design for me while we sipped our ice cafes. The shape was a sleeveless bustier look brought out over a tank top. It’s similar to this top which runs for 100nis.
Hopes for the future include displaying his collection on Etsy.com and creating a website.
Obviously, this fashion catch is really going places, but even more appealing, he hasn’t let it go to his head! Yoav Meir, besides being uber-stylish and utterly talented, is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet and someone I am now proud to call my friend!
Watch Yoav uncover the latest in Israeli fashion on Ofna Urbanit. It’s on on Fridays at 5:30pm on the E! Channel in Israel.
For now you can get in touch with Yoav Meir on his Facebook page.
Photos: Yoav Meir, E! Online, Mako.co.il,
Yoav Meir collection Design Photos by Guy Hecht