You might say that living among a different people, a different language, a different culture for 2 years now is what has inspired this American-born girl here in Israel. But really, it was the fashion! From smartly dressed celebs to street fashion galore, here’s what stylish pieces, places, and people have inspired me style-wise in my past year in the Holy Land.
It was a moment made in outrageous fashion heaven: Lady Gaga making an appearance in Israel. Would she wear a veil? Strip down to her skivvies? What inspired me most about her trip to the Holy Land was that the often over-the-top fashionista pop sensation dressed down for a trip to the Western Wall. In simple sunglasses, a black tank, and a veil, she paid respect to a holy site and didn’t bring attention to herself. While that didn’t stop her statement-making moments (faking an orgasm on stage, wearing a huge spiky silver Star of David necklace at a press conference) we were delighted that she was savvy enough to honor something meaningful without bringing attention to herself.
I first spied the black butterfly dress on style blogger Dar Mashiach from FashionPea, who opted to wear the statement-making number with a belt. Suddenly I was seeing and reading about the butterfly dress everywhere—on the street, at concerts, on the Web.
The label Cala, which imports a lot of its fashions from places like Thailand, posted photos of a stylish girl wearing the black butterfly dress with red Ray-Bans at a Suzanne Vega concert. I knew I wanted one right then. Lucky for me, I already live in Tel Aviv. It was delivered to my door. The Black Butterfly dress has since sold on Cala’s page at Sense of Fashion.
With hit blogs like The Streetswalker and ILook, Israel is quickly becoming a force on the street fashion scene. While ILook captures more of the punky, statement-making edge of the street folk or the girl next door who throws on a pair of green leggings but still manages to look ever so stylish as she walks out the door, The Streetswalker goes for the more classic and trendy, but slightly offbeat style of Israeli locals. You’ll notice that a lot of the style bloggers are now coming out with daily outfit posts on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa. While it may sound difficult to compare Israeli street fashion to Athens or Paris, the Israelis are climbing their way up there.
I didn’t think I’d found heaven until Tal Holtzman’s pop shop of hyper colored frocks, draped checkered blouses, and pleated pencil skirts on Ben Yehuda. It’s true, heaven will really make you see white—and blue and yellow and green and pink and turquoise and an array of bright colors, textures, and designs the store carries into its wake. While print and neon blouses and dresses by the likes of Inbal Gvili, Easy Innocence, and The Hellers frequent the store, it’s also the only place in Israel to carry Vivienne Westwood, a hot commodity if you can fork over the cash for high-fashion. Mix that in with cartoonish bags from LeSportspac, high waist pants, and an array of funky jewelry and you’ve got a little taste of high heaven in your midst. Café Bizarre inspired me to add a little spunk to my current threads.
I’d only seen her face, I hadn’t heard her music the first time I spied Efrat Gosh and her shaggy do and retro statement style. Comments from friends told me this girl isn’t afraid of anything and the striped blouses and neck ties, black liner, and vampy dresses told me the same. I found myself wanting to copy her vintage, her rocker femme chic, her heart-shaped pout. And just when I thought I had it down pat, she changed her look to flowery ruffles, sleek bodysuits, and a smile. Efrat Gosh helps find the style in all of us and shows me I don’t have to stick to one look to be cool.
Sense of Fashion may be an international portal for indie fashionistas, designers, and shoppers and feature a slew of newish Israeli stylistas, bloggers, and photo-savvy members in its pages, but what makes it really stand out for me fashion-wise is that the burgeoning site (which also features a place for trendsetters to buy and sell their pieces) was created by a group of Israelis. Founder Daria Shualy wanted a place to bring the entire indie fashion community together, without artificial separation. The creativity, success, and determination of the site truly inspires me as an up-and-coming fashion blogger hopeful. Not to mention they feature tons of new Israeli designers I’ve never even heard of until their photos appear on the site.
Ever heard of Fashion Cupcakes? Shelly Peleg? MODAna? Well, you will. I am truly certain of this fact as I’ve seen these style bloggers have their followings grow with each and every successful outfit, post and undertaking. As the blogging world reaches its full potential, so do these Israeli style bloggers who not only showcase an innovative Israeli style presence, but often also feature their buys from prominent Israeli designers and shops. Israelis truly have a fashion personality after all.
What inspires me more than the regular Israeli retail chain are those Israeli indie designers that stand out by promoting their designs in their own studio. Mirit Weinstock is one such case. While making sure her French femme-inspired items are being sold all over the world (in places like LA’s Stanton James, NY’s Pixie Market also London, Russian, Panama and more), she finds time to meet with fashionistas, buyers, fans, and friends right out of her very own work space on Schnitzler St. in Tel Aviv. Her jewelry pieces–think ruffles, satin, lace, and draped dresses, even feather necklaces —are one of a kind.
As I’ve mentioned in past articles, Tel Aviv has run rampant with the onslaught of intimate fashion sales in apartments. What better place to find unique, stylish pieces and make some money, than in your very own living room. While some designers make their items themselves, others import from places like London, Hong Kong, Thailand, and India. I’m so impressed with what I’ve discovered in random homes so far that I’m thinking of doing the same.
I may be celebrating 2 years in Israel in December, and 1 year, 6 months in Tel Aviv, but I only ventured out to the acclaimed Shenkin St. this year. Perhaps it was too far from my apartment on Ibn Gvirol (we Tel Avivians really do live in a bubble, even in our own neighborhoods) or perhaps I assumed Dizengoff had everything to offer. But for whatever reason, I only made it out to Shenkin St. about 2 months ago for the very first time. And boy was I ever glad I did (though my wallet certainly isn’t thanking me.)
While Dizengoff is known for its high fashion boutiques, Shenkin has a little bit for everyone—every style, every niche, every price. I spied chunky statement necklaces at Urbanix, Melissa/Vivienne Westwood collaboration shoes at Story, and sequined shirts at Madness. But there were also Mary-Jane pumps, chunky knits, and ribbed tees at every corner. Shenkin really does have something for every fashionista, and I think it will overpower the more globally recognized Dizengoff St. soon.
It was difficult to cut the list to 10, I had so many more. So here’s a short list, without much detail of other items that were inspirational this year. Look them up and they’ll be inspiring to you, too.
Anat Mikulinksky (115 Dizengoff St., Tel Aviv)
American Apparel (My first-time ever in this retail chain was the one on King George in Tel Aviv.)
Sarit Hadad (An Eastern singer some may gawk at, but I actually really like her style.)
Yeoshua (22 Ben Yehuda, the bar I frequent at least once a week)
Terry Poison (Israeli electro pop group that flaunts fab sequins and neon)