I’m back to writing about Israeli fashion for my Fashion Israel blog after a long, LOOOOOOONG hiatus, but let me tell you, this is not how I expected to make my comeback.
I did not expect to write about the fashion of Miri Regev.
Miri Regev is the Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport. She is responsible for the cultural programs representing Israel within Israel and throughout the world.
Although I may not agree with the way she likes to do things, she is a pretty woman who has the opportunity to spread the magic of Israeli fashion across the global map. After all, fashion is a part of the culture.
She had the opportunity to do that on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. We knew she would make a statement, yes. However, we didn’t know she would use the opportunity to spread Instead, she used that opportunity to spread her political views in a bold and risky way.
Regev wore a Jerusalem of Gold-themed dress designed by Aviad Arik Herman.
According to Regev, the dress is a tribute to the Six Days War and the 50th anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem. It does this quite literally. The top part of the dress is made of mesh fabric with crystals, gems, and metal hammers in a car that amplifies the color of Jerusalem stone. The rest of it is gold-plated brocade skirt with a print of the Jerusalem skyline by the designer Boris Soltanov.
Mind you, there is nothing wrong with showcasing the beauty of a landscape on your clothing. Fashion designers are forever being inspired by the beauty of nature. But in a time where there is still so much debate on the vast city of Jerusalem, perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to wear something so explicit, particularly to an arts event.
Although, I’m sure she knew what she was doing and that is what she wanted. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Regev wanted to start the Jerusalem conversation. Not sure how much the international fashion world wants to be involved in this conversation, but she put it out there. In general, much of the world, including the United Nations still regards Jerusalem (including the Old City) as being under military occupation.
The dress is up for political debate not just because it’s the Jerusalem skyline, but because it made sure to feature the Western Wall so prominently. Granted, for Jews, the Western Wall is the essence of Israel, Jerusalem and Judaism. As Lahav Harkov so eloquently describes in her Tablet magazine article on the politics of this particular dress, the Western Wall is “at the core of Jewish identity.” But the dispute over Jerusalem is really what made it such a hot and heavy topic.
It became the dress that spawned a thousand memes — people were not happy about it and responded in both an angry and a satirical fashion. One Israeli Arab changed the dress so that it showcased the West Bank separation barrier. Other Israelis used it to showcase the threat of war in Gaza and the constant debate of the two-state solution.
In my opinion, the dress was an obvious and overt way for Miri Regev to express her political agenda. For better or worse. But there are better ways to showcase Jerusalem on a dress — for example, using colors to express the beauty of the landscape, the way brands like Maskit do so well.
Instead, it was an explicit print of Jerusalem featuring the Kotel so prominently. Is that a bad thing? Couldn’t you argue that famous designers like JC de Castelbajac like to stir the pot in a similar way with their prints of political pop art? (Remember de Castelbajac’s nod to the political climate with the sequined Obama dress in Spring/Summer ’09? This is the same guy who was the official designer for the 1997 Catholic celebration World Youth Days in Paris, where he created apparel for the Pope and 5,000 priests at the event.
Back to Miri Regev and her controversial fashion choice. The dress was designed by Swedish-based Israeli who also designed the Miss Universe dress for Miss Austria. That dress was statement-making in its own right, as it featured a print of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.
Herman said he worked on Regev’s dress for six months. On Instagram, he thanked Regev for the privilege and great honor.
He isn’t the only Israeli to go a bit “print and politics crazy” with dresses. Remember the Star of David dress worn by Miss Israel Rana Raslan for the Miss Universe pageant in 1999? I know I can’t get that picture out of my mind. And besides the nature of the cutouts on that dress — Rana herself was an Israeli Arab so the imprint caused quite a stir.
In 1998, a dress by Galit Levi, the same designer who designed Rana Raslan’s confection helped Linor Abergil win the Miss World title. It featured the famous picture of the triple handshake from Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat in signing the peace agreement. If that’s not loud, I don’t know what is.
Once again, I don’t understand why these Israeli designers don’t believe that they can make a subtle statement and spread a peaceful message with a dress based on the beauty of Israel. Why does it have to be so loud and aggressive? Then again, have you ever heard of an Israeli who was quiet? 😉
Sources: Fashion Forward, The Hollywood Reporter, Tablet, Refinery 29