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Cover of Grandmother Days: A Taste of Bedouin Life, produced in Lakia.

In the Bedouin town of Lakia, in the upper Negev, is an extraordinarily forward-thinking enterprise that was conceived, initiated, and is today run by Bedouin women. The Desert Embroidery project, under the auspices of Lakia’s Association for the Improvement of Women’s Status, brings together unique time-honored skills and a much-needed source of income for the Bedouin community. Their products—vividly colored embroidered clothing, bags, and other goods—are irresistibly beautiful.

These skills were not being learned by the younger girls. If we didn’t do something to preserve the skills, they would be lost.
— Hessin Elsana

The project began with fifteen women and has trained over 160 to date, expanding into neighboring Bedouin communities. The operations are simple but groundbreaking for this community: a core of women is responsible for design and development, obtaining embroidery materials, worker training, and marketing; and another group looks out for quality control of the finished goods. As of this writing, some sixty women in and around Lakia are working from their homes doing hand embroidery. They visit the center twice a week to collect materials, drop off finished items, learn new designs, and attend workshops and lectures. Each woman chooses how much she can work and is paid according to the amount she produces.

Hessin Elsana, one of the Desert Embroidery project’s founders, acknowledges it is difficult for outsiders to imagine the isolation that is possible in such a culture. In the Bedouin culture, she says, “the woman is the center of the household. She’s supposed to help with the education and raising of the children.” But among traditional Bedouins, embroidery is a respected and accepted activity for women, even in the most conservative of households. Furthermore, as Lakia grew, new infrastructures and amenities, such as running water, were changing the pace of the day: if women didn’t have to spend time fetching water from a distant well, how else might that time be productively spent? And now there were new costs such as mortgages to be paid. “The women wanted to do something to contribute that they felt comfortable with, an activity that was suitable for them, that they already knew something about, and that they could do something with,” explains Hessin. “Also, these skills were not being learned by the younger girls. If we didn’t do something to preserve the skills, they would be lost.”

Desert Embroidery > 


The Lakia Desert Embroidery Project, Run by Enterprising Bedouin Women

Neve Tzedek shops, Tel Aviv–Yafo. Photo by and © Vision Studio

Neve Tzedek shops, Tel Aviv–Yafo. Photo by and © Vision Studio

Neve Tzedek may be Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhood, but it has a fully contemporary life and atmosphere. Shabazi Street is a hive of shops—from the asymmetrical cuts and cunning miniboots offered at Mizo to the hand-embroidered shawls at Badim TLV to Maya Zukerman’s lightweight cotton goods at Mayu, in hues made for layering. (And to ensure that there will be a full range of body shapes to clothe, one must stop at the Anita gelato parlor while shopping.) 

Tel Aviv offers the full gamut of options: from freaky chic to the most refined elegance.

For slightly fancier selections, there are the boutiques at nearby HaTachana: the recently restored old terminus of the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway. This beautiful complex was originally built in 1892, and its vintage stone buildings now house clothing shops, cafés, and design stores. Walk west to the water and you’ll run into Tel Aviv–Yafo’s smart portside shopping centers, with big-name brands from around the world, as well as small boutiques featuring local designs. For occasions that require absolute grandeur, you might try the upscale stores, such as Alon Livné or Yosef Peretz on the north end of Dizengoff Street—often termed the Champs-Élysées of Tel Aviv.  For the fashion conscious, Tel Aviv offers the full gamut of options: from freaky chic to the most refined elegance.

Alon Livne > 

Anita  >

Badim TLV >

HaTachana >

Mayu > 

Mizo >

Yosef Peretz > 

Shopping in Tel Aviv: Neve Tzedek, HaTachana, and Beyond

Helena Blaunstein of Frau Blau helps a fashionable client. Photo by and © Vision Studio

Like other vibrant cities, Tel Aviv is in a constant state of change, but as of this writing, perhaps the single coolest fashion district is Gan HaChashmal (the “Electric Garden,” so named because it was the first neighborhood in Israel to have its own power plant, back in the 1920s). In the early 2000s, intriguing independent design studios began to dot streets primarily devoted to hardware stores and dusty warehouses: Kisim, Idit Barak’s Delicatessen, Frau Blau, and more. Together they formed a consortium that came to be called Collective Gan Hahashmal: while retaining their independence, they support one another in marketing and business survival—a very Israeli model of cooperation.

Creative, interesting people live and work here.
— Maya Bash

Today some of the shops have changed location, and the Gan HaHashmal scene is still transforming, with new bars and restaurants and dance clubs taking up more of the once-languishing real estate. Designer Maya Bash was one of the neighborhood’s pioneers—and her shop on Barzilay Street is still going strong. “You now have a cool customized-bicycle place, coffee bars, great hamburgers, great music,” says Bash. “Creative, interesting people live and work here." 

Frau Blau Facebook >

Frau Blau Instagram >

Kisim >

Maya Bash >

Frau Brau Instagram

Tel Aviv’s Gan HaChashmal: From Warehouses to Fashion Houses

Designs by Sharon Brushner, on Instagram

At flea markets, of course, another person’s throwaway can become your exotic treasure. If your tastes run toward the offbeat and you’re ready for some haggling, you’ll want to stroll Jaffa’s Shuk HaPishpeshim, a flea market that offers vintage finds as well as a number of glamorous but tiny showcases for adventurous designers. You might stop in at Zielinski & Rozen Perfumerie, a customized-perfume maker with wares made from local herbs and flowers. Sharon Brunsher offers comfy minimalist fashions in blacks, grays, and whites. Visit Eyal and Roni Shpilman’s vintage store Galerie Parisienne, where you might just find an exquisite Vuitton bag from 1975 if you’re lucky. At Ruby Star, the jewelry (designed by Shirley Itzik) tends toward the chunky: necklaces with big stones and hammered gold bases, rope-inspired gold bracelets, chainmail.

At the flea market, another person’s throwaway can become your exotic treasure.

The Vida shoe shop is tucked into a Jaffa side street called HaHalfanim. In the window is a croquembouche of homemade footwear in wild colors and shapes and in materials that range from leather to silk to burlap to fur: prim low heels and massive platforms, minimalist unconventional or audaciously spiky and flirtatious. Venture in—just for fun—and you may emerge with unquestionably unique new shoes, tailored precisely to your taste and style.

Zielinski & Rozen >

Sharon Brunsher >

Sharon Brunsher Instagram >

Galerie Parisienne >

Ruby Star >  

Shuk HaPishpeshim > 

Shopping Jaffa: From Shuk to Chic

Designs by threeASFOUR on Instagram    

Designs by threeASFOUR on Instagram


One reason fashion is interesting in Israel is the vibrancy and variety of styles. The Israeli Fashion Week showcases work by well-established Israeli couturiers such as Karen Oberson and Dorin Frankfurt, and emerging names such as Liora Taragan and the sister duo Einav Zini and Nophar Machluf, Yoav Rish, Maoz Dahan, Natalie Dadon, and Nastya Lisansky. Although the 2012 Fashion Week was interrupted by rockets launched over Tel Aviv (an incursion known as Operation Pillar of Defense), the Israelis continued undaunted with the event in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Amir Hayek, director general of the National Manufacturers Association of Israel, says, “We see local designers as a means to breathe new life into the design industry in Israel,” he says.

We see local designers as a means to breathe new life into the design industry in Israel.
— Amir Hayek

Can fashion serve a social function? At the 2015 Fashion Week, Israeli designer Yaron Minkowsi draped models in keffiyehs (traditional Arab headdress) that were fashioned into evening gowns and daywear. He was just one of dozens of couturiers featured at the four-day event, including a selection of emerging designers and a show of work by students from Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art.

From renowned names like Ronen Chen and Elie Tahari to, the avant-garde design collective threeASFOUR —if you are interested in clothes, whether classic elegance or offbeat experimentalism, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Israel.

threeASFOUR >

threeASFOUR Instagram >

Dorin Frankfurt >

Yaron Minkowski >

Elie Tahari >

Einav Zini and Nophar Machluf >

Karen Oberson >

Ronen Chen >

Shenkar College of Engineering, Design, and Art >

Designs by threeASFOUR on Instagram




Israeli Fashion Week: A Showcase for Elegance and Experimentation