Where are all the hottest fashion designers coming from? Tel Aviv
The Mediterranean metropolis is turning out an impressive crop of young, skilled talent that's making a global stake in the fashion industry.
They might not be household names yet, but sit tight. These young, fresh faces of fashion are shaking up the industry with cutting-edge designs and shape-shifting collections that are becoming a major force in runways around the world. And they all have one thing in common: they're from Tel Aviv, Israel – a Mediterranean metropolis bursting with sophistication, urban flair and style.
From celebrity weddings to show-stopping costumes, Israeli designers have garnered praise dressing everyone from Lady Gaga to Heidi Klum to Beyoncé. But why the appeal? To what do we owe this sudden emergence of designers hailing not from Milan, or Paris, or New York, but ... Tel Aviv?
There's a very good reason for that. Tel Aviv, in addition to being a style epicenter, is also home to one of the world's most exciting high-tech scenes. From advances in 3D printing to massive new hubs for companies like Google, Intel and Apple, the city has cemented itself as a major player in global innovation. It's even being called the next Silicon Valley.
So it's only natural that the city's young up-and-comers would deftly take its two greatest passions – fashion and technology – and merge them together.
At just shy of 30 years old, Danit Peleg knows this merger quite well. After all, where else but her hometown of Tel Aviv would you be able to create a wardrobe entirely out of a 3D printer?
Peleg just unveiled the first commercially available 3D-printed jacket on her website. The graduate of the prestigious Shenkar College of Engineering and Design – where a large portion of Israeli fashion designers honed their craft – spent years researching fabrics, patterns, printers and structures for her one-of-a-kind line, and it's earned her a world of acclaim and accolades. She's now considered a pioneer in the 3D-printed fashion movement.
“Today, fashion, for me, is the only physical thing that’s left,” Peleg
said, “so it only makes sense that it will go digital as well. The
idea of having digital files or keeping your closet on your USB card,
that’s what I’m pretty sure will happen.”
Indeed, there's a reason the phrase "fashion statement" is so ubiquitous – if you want to be remembered in this industry, you have to stand out. And at only 19, Maya Reik has done just that – with not one, but three fashion weeks already under her belt.
She just launched her own online store, called Marei 1998, and she recently finished presenting her collection in Milan. She was profiled in The New York Times, and before that, Vogue. And that's all without a high school diploma. It's true; Reik decided she "was just not a school girl" and dropped out at 14, choosing instead to take courses at the aforementioned Shenkar College to round out her skills.
While these designers all boast highly unique styles, there is a common theme here: some really heavy boundary pushing. Take Daizy Shely, who just presented her line of bright, vibrant floral fringe and bold, whimsical color in Milan last month. Before that, Shely, 32, was chosen as the costume designer for last year's FOX horror comedy series "Scream Queens," styling looks for stars Ariana Grande, Lea Michele and Emma Roberts.
"I put a lot of attention to details because this is what makes the difference between the regular commercial world and the designer," Shely told the LA Times.
Indeed, a brush with celebrity can make all the difference in a designer's career, and that fortune has certainly played out for Kobi Levi, who started making shoes as a hobby and received a fortuitous phone call after posting some photos on his blog.
A studio executive for Lady Gaga, working on the video for her song "Born this Way," came across his work and asked Levi to design a few pairs of shoes. Having never sold a single pair up to that point, he was a little daunted. That was three years ago, and you could say he's now got a firm foothold on the industry.
“I like to use iconic images of everyday life, things we all know, and show them in a new way, with a sense of humor,” says Levi. “I think that is what people like about my work, the combination of familiar, new and fun.”
In addition to the Gaga collaboration, Levi's shoes have also been used as museum artifacts. His work was featured as part of an exhibit called "Walk of Art" at the Parasol Project Gallery in New York last year.
Also no stranger to using fashion as an art form, Tel Aviv boutique owner Alon Livne found his niche as a celebrity designer after winning the Israeli version of "Project Runway." He now counts Naomi Campbell and Beyoncé as customers.
Alon Livne dresses a model during his presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. (Photo: Fernanda Calfat / Getty Images)
Like many Israeli designers who started young, Livne has been designing since he was 17. He apprenticed at Alexander McQueen in London and Roberto Cavalli in Florence, two of Europe’s premier luxury fashion houses. His fall/winter collection debuted at the 2013 New York Fashion Week.
Now, he’s busy running his own bridal couture line, Alon Livne White. “I wanted to make something that is very showstopper, very unique, but still feminine and soft,” he told Cosmopolitan.
And if anything can be described as a showstopper, it's this Livne dress worn by Beyonce on her "Mrs. Carter" world tour, as you can see in the video below:
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