The room went dark save the bright white lights flaring along the runway. The silence of the eagerly awaiting audience was abruptly interrupted by a thumping heavy base, reminiscent of something in between an underground, groovy party and a safari. First to appear down the runway was a series of men in all black, a serious collection thoroughly fitting to the accompanying serious music. Complete with voluminous hoods and bulky coats, this collection sought to “examine the tension between an individual’s separation and integration in society,” as the designer Hila Feinberg wrote, by creating “transgressed and distorted” outlines of the body with each garment.
Hila was just one of about a dozen graduating students from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem showcasing their final projects in fashion, accessories, and jewelry on Tuesday at the Bezalel Gallery, Yaffo 23/Jerusalem for the school’s end of the year fashion show. From a clothing collection designed to define memories inspired by an Alexander Smith quote – “A man’s real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor” – to a series of cups designed to collect tears in The Three Weeks (which upon overflowing, according to Jewish legend, will bring redemption to the Jewish people), the night was filled with complex ideas related through intricate techniques and producing elaborate results.
The students’ projects were both innovative and unique. One student, Paz Akuka, explained that she examined “the role of the pocket as a functional and aesthetic container in an item of clothing,” an idea which translated as experimental and fresh. Another project – Shuli Kass – was about the connection between shoes and childhood memories, in which vegetation was planted in between the layers of leather, in order to evoke an organic feeling in the wearer and an attachment to the environment and nature normally detached on a daily basis.
Some of the collections’ subtextual meaning wasn’t immediately apparent or easy to digest in the fast-paced motion of the show, with models swiftly passing one after another with no pronounced transition between the different collections. Regardless of whether the crowd understood the purpose of Doron Ron’s collection “to undermine the preconception of the gender divisions into ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine,’” or the intention of Maayan Orbach’s one piece collection to reflect “the burdening feeling of emptiness of the roots eradicated in the Holocaust,” the energy of the models, strutting their designers’ work with feverish charge, was nevertheless transmitted to the audience. This buzzing environment among the crowd was discernible by their smiling and clapping at the pieces they most liked with enthusiasm.
Many of the clothing, jewelry, and bags struck me solely as pieces of art, as I was unable to imagine them worn in day-to-day life, even among the most trendy fashionistas, while other pieces were more conceivable to be worn by your typical, yet chic and funky, Israeli. Either way, this graduating class of fashion students produced distinctive pieces executed with imagination and eloquent expression and many will, undoubtedly, in true Bezalel Academy spirit, carry on after school as pioneers on the Israeli art and fashion stage.