On Tel Aviv’s fashion runway, a head-on collision
Fashion crisis

On Tel Aviv’s fashion runway, a head-on collision

It’s only year two of the annual Tel Aviv Fashion Week, but last year’s co-producers are now running two competing extravaganzas

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Israeli designer Dorit Bar Or at the close of her show in last year's Tel Aviv Fashion Week (photo credit: Meir Partush/Flash 90)
Israeli designer Dorit Bar Or at the close of her show in last year's Tel Aviv Fashion Week (photo credit: Meir Partush/Flash 90)

Last November, Tel Aviv hosted its first fashion week in 20 years. This year, there will be two competing fashion weeks, both within a two-week span in November.

TLV FW (Tel Aviv Fashion Week), began Sunday night, November 11 at HaTachana, the refurbished train station complex, and will run through Tuesday, November 13. The competing event, Israel Fashion Week-Gindi Tel Aviv, will be held Monday, November 26 through Wednesday, November 28, at the Gindi Wholesale Market, a new real-estate development in South Tel Aviv.

No one’s talking about what happened, but last year’s organizers — Ofir Lev, deputy CEO of the Israel Textile and Fashion Association; and Motty Reif, a publicist and producer known for Beverly Hills Fashion Week — each announced in late October that they would be hosting separate events.

Israelis love their Moschino belts, both real and fake (Courtesy Facebook)
Israelis love their Moschino belts, both real and fake (photo credit: Kara Bieber//YA Salam blog by Korin Avraham)

Lev’s TLV FW appears to be the official event, opening with a show featuring Moschino, the Italian fashion label. Public sponsors include the city of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the Israel Export Institute and the Israel Manufacturer’s Association. The Ministry of Tourism is hosting visiting journalists from major fashion magazines in Europe and the US, including Elle, Vogue and Glamour, as part of its ongoing efforts to market Israeli tourism to a broader audience. The designers appearing in the first event are the younger, smaller local labels, including Tel Aviv stalwarts such as the quirkily distinctive Frau Blau and the romantically retro look of Ido Recanati.

Reif’s is the second fashion week, sponsored by the Gindi real-estate group and drawing from the more-established Israeli designers, such as father-and-daughter studio Gideon and Karen Oberson, Kedem Sasson and Dorin Frankfurt.

Reif and Lev were unavailable for comment, while designers Sasson Kedem (his label name is a reverse of his personal name) and Dorin Frankfurt said they preferred not to comment on the fashion feud.

Father-and-daughter pair Karen and Gideon Oberson at last year's TLV Fashion Week (Courtesy TLV FW)
Father-and-daughter pair Karen and Gideon Oberson at last year’s TLV Fashion Week (photo credit: Courtesy TLV FW)

Gideon Oberson, known globally for his swimsuits and more locally for his couture-styled collections, said he moved over to Reif’s fashion week because of details relating to his runway show. Oberson’s collection is based on concepts from the “Sacred and Profane” piece of the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company; dancers will be participating in his runway show.

“I had the idea of working with the Kibbutz Dance Company on this collection and to have them perform during the runway show and Motty was handling it,” he said. “Then Motty said he was leaving and, since he had been handling the arrangements, I went with him. I’m not getting into it.”

Much of the small, local fashion industry has been uncharacteristically hushed about the reasons for the fashion-week split.

A typically diplomatic reaction was that of Philip Blau, the husband-half of Frau Blau, who said he was pleased about having two fashion weeks, particularly since he has friends participating in both.

Frau Blau sets out its shoes for tomorrow's fashion show (Courtesy Frau Blau)
Frau Blau sets out its shoes for tomorrow’s fashion show (photo credit: Courtesy Frau Blau)

With his runway show scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday, Blau said he already has meetings scheduled with store buyers attending the show, as well as interviews with some of the foreign press in town for the event.

“They want to know about our entry into the London market,” said Blau, whose company recently signed with showrooms in New York, London and Russia. “This week isn’t just fun and games, it helps push us forward.”

That was the consensus of designer Ido Recanati as well, who showed at last year’s Tel Aviv Fashion Week and will be showing his Summer 2013 collection on the runway at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Ido Recanati look (Courtesy Ido Recanati)
The Ido Recanati look (photo credit: Courtesy Ido Recanati)

“It’s an opportunity to put your collection together in an organized fashion and not just as items in the store,” said Recanati, who owns his label with his wife and partner, Inbar Gross. They have two stores in Tel Aviv, including one at HaTachana, where the fashion week is being held. “We’re very happy to have this platform and framework, and to help raise the bar on the level of professionalism in the field.”

Many of the designers showing at the first fashion week have been in business for at least a decade, as compared with the longer, 40-year and 30-year careers of Gideon Oberson and Dorin Frankfurt — who will be showing at the second fashion week — and the newer designers have  businesses that are generally smaller and limited to sales in Israel. That said, Recanati commented that fashion week offers the chance to show off Israeli fashion to the international market. He is less concerned with selling to buyers for export.

“The business is very hard,” he said. “It’s not that we can’t do export, but the buying is less relevant. We just want more recognition of what we’re doing and what Israeli design is doing. Israeli design is casual, it’s fun.”

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