“In almost every country that is traditionally considered a danger zone, there is fashion,” Vanessa Friedman, fashion director at the New York Times tells us in “Fashion during wartime,” published today. She then likens Tel Aviv’s Tuesday night graduate student show at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design to catwalks in Kiev, Zambia and even Afghanistan.
A closer example of a fashion show in a “danger zone” would have been Gaza’s first children’s fashion walk earlier this year. The Gaza show was a sad, underfunded affair with no Palestinian brands and two Israeli lines featured. The full depression of the blockade was on display, reminding spectators that Gaza doesn’t produce quality clothes anymore. Gaza can barely feed itself.
By comparison, the Tel Aviv show was in a grand auditorium. Leading Israeli actress Keren Mor attended. And unlike Afghanistan and Gaza, the danger zone Friedman dedicates valuable New York Times real estate to was not one of raining bombs, or entire wedding parties annihilated, or beach-going youths cruelly killed.
Rather, in Tel Aviv, the war was experienced via text messages. Friedman quotes Leah Perez, the curator of the fashion show:
“[A]ll of a sudden everyone started getting text messages on their mobile phones that the sirens were going off, and the rockets were coming to Tel Aviv. We were in a big exhibition space with no bomb shelter. So I had to decide if we should evacuate or not.”
They didn’t evacuate. The fashion show continued. Regrettably the “champagne after-party had been canceled” — which Friedman says is an example that “defiance in the name of aesthetics only goes so far” for brave Tel Aviv.
P.S. The article plugs Maskit, deemed Israel’s first or only luxury clothing line now rebranded under new ownership. Ruth Dayan, the wife of Moshe Dayan, founded the line, which uses motifs of Palestinian and Lebanese tadris. Friedman mentions the “traditional” sources of inspiration, but calls the ripping off of the designs “elevating the cultural heritage of the region.” Perhaps cultural appropriation is even more endemic to the upscale fashion industry, than fashion shows in danger zones.