Every once in a while, there's a startling reminder that fashion does still
hold the power to provoke and titillate — no matter how familiar its codes and gimmicks may have become to the in-crowd. Such a moment flickered yesterday
at the Comme Il Faut shop here in Tel Aviv when Sybil Goldfainer guided us through her
utterly refreshing retail concept.
Full of contradictions, the gigantic vaulted space somehow effortlessly flows from a toddler-friendly library in one corner to an X-rated sex shop in the other with cerebral video art decorating the labyrinth of open corridors which display the designer's collection of artisanally-inspired clothes — not to mention a menagerie of other covetable products both big and small. Silversmiths pound away on jewellery in the middle of the space while, unfazed, hungry patrons devour home-cooking in an in-shop-restaurant overlooking the sea which only a few years ago brought in a small tsunami compelling Goldfainer to make major refurbishments to the building.
Goldfainer is a charming and incorrigible radical who seems to revel not only in ambushing the public but also in alienating her loyal consumers when she's feeling justified or just plain mischievous. Since the politically-charged founder began over two
decades ago, she has rubbed more than a few powerful people the wrong way and one gets the impression that she wouldn't have it any other way. Through clever comedy or gut-wrenching imagery, she has used the brand's ad campaigns, catwalks and most notably her boutique as a platform to stir debate around gender, social justice, class, race, sexuality, feminism and other heavy-hitting topics. No easy feat when using the usually superficial language of fashion.
Across town, a breathtaking jewellery brand has been evolving at the studio of mother-daughter duo Noritamy which is a collaboration between fine artist Tammar Edelman (mum) and former architect Elinor Avni (daughter). Theirs is a take on accessories that occupies an imposing yet extraordinarily elegant aesthetic space — by contrasting the raw with the refined; the beauty with the brute; and the organic with the naturally impossible.
Another exciting discovery in Tel Aviv has been Erez Solo Rimon, a talented young knitwear designer with a decidely conceptual streak who has just come back from a residence at the Design Museum Holon where he no doubt exhausted himself knitting a sweater-of-some-sort over one of the quirky buildings in the complex.
Accessories have been a highlight throughout our adventure of the local fashion scene from progressive Israeli heritage-brands-in-the-making like Daniella Lehavi or Maya Negri to cutting-edge labels like PQ Eyewear founded by the unstoppable entrepreneur Assaf Raviv who persuaded Ron Arad to design for him. The younger generation too — such as Stella and Lori, Darios, Maya Levi of Olive Thomas, Smadar-Pola Azriel of Inbar Shahak, Paula Bianco, Ruby Star and Mirit Weinstock – seem to have a particular flair for accessories here. Perhaps from these foundations — accessorizing the body-canvas — a few will branch out into ready-to-wear and some day conquer international markets…