As many of us fashionistas around the world know, the great Alber Elbaz, head fashion designer at Lanvin, has signed on to do a partnership with retail clothng label H&M in the spirit of Karl Lagerfeld, Roberto Cavalli, Sonia Rykiel , and even Madonna.
What many of you guys may or may not know is that Elbaz got his start right here in Israel at the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of being in touch with veteran fashion journalist and fashionista dujour Nurit Bat-Yaar who has spanned quite a history of fashion in Israel, as a model, writer, and overall stylista and has covered much of it in her book Israel Fashion Art: 1948-2008 “שיכרון עיצובים – אמנות האופנה בישראל.”
Bat-Yaar is truly the fashion expert of Israel, much more so than I will ever be.
Bat-Yaar knew Elbaz himself when he was just an Israeli soldier, before he went to the renowned Shenkar Design School and way before he was the much talked about designer helming Lanvin, and wrote the amazing story down in her blog. Elbaz also wrote one of the introductions for her published book.
The story goes that Bat-Yaar got a call in 1981 from a “guide-soldier” in charge of cultural affairs to give a talk about fashion at an event for a group of female soldiers wtih Liza Boker designs and two of the leading models in Israel at the time, Tami Ben-Ami and Pinchy Mor. Who knew that man would go on to become a world leader in fashion? It was Alber Elbaz.
Elbaz sent Nurit a framed thank-you from his army department and then called again to ask her to look at one of his fashion drawings. She agreed and he showed her vivid illustrations that expressed his imaginative approach to fashion design that he would later be known for. She advised him not to keep an outfit too busy and instead, focus on one point to attract the person looking at it.
Next Alber Elbaz was accepted to Shenkar as a student and Bat-Yaar kept track of him as the fashion editor for Yediot Aharonot. She included a picture of model Tami Ben-Ami modeling one of his Shenkar designs and even wrote about the over-the-top outfits he wore himself to Shenkar parties.
She continued to follow his career as he went to Geoffrey Beene and Guy Laroche, and then attended his first show as a designer for Yves St. Laurent (he worked with the head designer when YSL himself was still alive.) And of course, she watched him rise to the top with his own line, Lanvin.
It’s so interesting to watch how many talented people made their way to the top and makes me feel like I myself can do it one day…not as a designer, of course, but as a writer about topics that I enjoy. I also hope that people like Bat-Yaar and Elbaz will continue to promote the authenticity and talent of Israeli fashion because the world needs to know about it!
As I read the book and learn more about Bat-Yaar and her genius, there will definitely be more on this blog as she is essential to understanding the history of Israeli fashion.