Multifaceted Jerusalem wears many clothes in festival of contemporary design
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Multifaceted Jerusalem wears many clothes in festival of contemporary design

Designers, artists and other creatives have fun breaking the rigid rules of fashion in ‘Overall’ at the ancient Tower of David

Jerusalem’s overall character was the idea behind “Overall,” a festival celebrating the culture of contemporary fashion at Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum held last week — not the one-piece denim garments that happen to be in fashion this season.

The event, held July 16-20, was a celebration of the culture of contemporary fashion, through the lens of the city’s unique ecosystem of varied neighborhoods and communities, each with its own story.

“The fashion system can be very limiting with all its rules of right and wrong, and do’s and don’ts,” explained Shachar Atwan, artistic director for the event. “Jerusalem is a tense city with its many communities, but that is why it is a more liberal and less judgmental place when it comes to more playful and interactive fashion.”

The free, three-day event, which the museum plans on making an annual tradition, included a fashion show by graduates of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Graduate and “Wanderings” in the courtyard of the Tower of David, where artists, designers and craftspeople demonstrated their work in the nooks and crannies of the museum, including machine knitting, shoe making, jewelry designs, embroidery, weaving and 3D printing.

Crocheting an urban installation as part of ‘Overall’ at the Tower of David Museum (Courtesy Ricky Rachman)

There were live photo shoots, design installations and a conference that took a look at closets of the future, as well as fashion tours of discovery through the city.

“Jerusalem is a mashup of people and approaches, with an incomparable ‘catwalk’ of fashion,” said Eilat Lieber, director and chief curator of the Tower of David Museum.

The Collective was another aspect of the event, comprising seven young designers each with their own take on fashion and the holy city.

Aharon Genish and Shlomit Amar, representing the WIZO institute in Haifa, both grew up in religious Jewish families. They created a jacket-like gown with a humorous perspective on a rabbi in his traditional garb, and a Muslim woman with her headscarf. The prints were woven together with a red wool thread, in a nod to the red threads often tied on peoples’ wrists for ostensibly spiritual reasons after visiting the Western Wall.

Traditional Palestinian embroidery, one of the workshops at ‘Overall,’ a fashion event from July 16-20, 2019 at the Tower of David Museum (Courtesy Ricky Rachman)

Aner Shevah, whose fashion is inspired by traditions from the East and West, as well as street culture and global trends, wanted to explore the idea that Jerusalem never just presents one reality.

He took a traditional Muslim prayer rug and covered it entirely with a simple black cotton fabric to form a large overcoat. During a live performance on Wednesday night, he scratched off some of the fabric and, without destroying the rug, allowed its green, yellow, and black threads and traditional designs to emerge.

Colorful sails decorating the tops of the Tower of David Museum as part of ‘Overall,’ a fashion event in July 2019 (Courtesy Ricky Rachman)

Ceramicist Talya Tomer, who studied at Bezalel, decorated the citadel with her art, inviting passing visitors to help her cover the dome of the grand Mamluk building with knitted shapes, equipped with only a crochet needle and blue thick yarn.

Tomer, who lives in Jerusalem, has brought her urban installations to many neighborhoods. “People react differently to my work in distinct neighborhoods,” she said. “But everybody finds a way to connect to this stuff.”

In another installation, artist Gili Avissar created large, sail-like fabrics, a multicolor patchwork of differently shaped forms that flapped in the wind high above in the skies.

“Overall” was supported by The Jerusalem Development Authority, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage and the Jerusalem Municipality.

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