Once in a while an opportunity that is truly a gift falls into our laps. Although it required I complete an application and give serious consideration to why I, over other women in the world, deserved to attend a fashion trip to Israel. To my delight, I received the gift of being chosen as one of 36 women from over 300 applicants in eight countries to participate in the spiritual quest to Israel. The inspirational journey that would introduce us to the international center of high-tech innovation and fashion was sponsored by the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP).
Entrepreneurial and Personal Reflection
The eight day trip offered many experiences related to the clothing design and accessory industry, with other significant visits to the religious site of Masada and the Western Wall. Wonderfully reflective seminars were conducted by the ever-so inspiring founding Director Lori Palatnik of JWRP and Adrianne Gold, Canadian fashion and beauty program host. These fashion gurus highlighted topics on reclaiming our dignity as women through self esteem and beauty in the glare of the media, the art of values, and gossip lies and lessons.
At moments I felt like a human sponge, visually absorbing the beauty and creative genus of the artistic designs through the designer’s eyes. I learned to focus on being present through the observation of how Israeli’s conduct their daily lives and lived their beliefs often through choosing to make Aliyah (æ.lɪ.ˈɑ: to migrate to Israel). I am grateful for this reflective journey that provided me the insight to look within—as a 25-year veteran stylist in the fashion industry, my relationships with my spouse and children, my life and how my role in society may change moving forward.
The culmination of the magnificent experiences presented to our group of 36, including the seminars from numerous Israeli fashion industry speakers and designers, the bus/tour guide and the JWRP leaders is overwhelmingly satisfying.
Israeli Fashion House
Many of the buildings we visited are made of large off-white Jerusalem stone. The renovated Maskit, or first Israeli fashion house, was founded by Ruth Dayan who aided impoverished immigrants, eventually creating over 2,000 design and production jobs. Currently, the Maskit is run by fashion designer Sharon Tal who trained with Alexander McQueen of London. The fashion house was as much of a fashion museum as it was a workroom—where aspiring designers were as beautiful as they were eccentric.
High-Tech Fashion Innovation
One of the most fascinating groups that spoke to us was the Fash-Tech, a community for fashion innovators and a co-workspace for female entrepreneurs, located in Tel-Aviv. Jewelry and fashion designer and entrepreneur Nitzan Kish has created modular self-defense outfits from an image processing software and 3D printer. She shared her story of having been attacked and wanting to develop a product that could be used as a protective clothing. Another gifted, high-tech designer Tamara Efrat, combines the use of traditional smocking embroidery with computer algorithms based on a grid made of dots and mathematical research to develop handbag patterns. Efrat’s method results in the creation of beautifully designed smocked bags in various patterns that are uniqueto the handbag industry market.
Not only did I have the opportunity to hear and see the stories from this innovative think tank for women but enjoyed an Israel Fashion Week Event with eight of the most influential designers in a runway show! I was front and center with one designer after another, witness to abundant talent as seen on the models strutting down the runway. An evening I may never forget!
left to right: Miz. Nitzan Kish, Karandagi House, Tamara Efrat
Care and Empowerment
Another impactful visit in our journey was to Beit Issie Shapiro, a center for the care and empowerment of people with disabilities. I was fortunate to meet with the center director, parents of students, a volunteer and activist Bella Tzur and adaptive clothing designer Sasson Kedem. The center is developing cutting edge techniques to share with other programs around the world. I was able to experience the Snoezelen room, a multisensory environment specially designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, scents, etc. The snoezelen therapy is often used to stimulate a sense of balance for people who suffer with autism and other disabilities.
Amongst our group of 36 women was Mindy Scheier, founder of Runway of Dreams™ Foundation. Mindy works with Tommy Hilfiger designing adaptive brand clothing for children. She was motivated to design adaptive clothing because of her nine year old son’s desire to dress and wear comfortable and fashionable clothing; he suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Their adaptive clothing is soon to be released for adults. Mindy’s inspiring journey of how she is making a difference for so many children to feel no different than their peers was truly humbling. Her work certainly reminds us of how much good is in the world.
More to Share
Having had the opportunity to be part of a hand selected group of women with a similar mind of the love of fashion made this experience all the more special. I have so much more to share of this gifted opportunity of a lifetime—from the photo shoot, camel rides and delectable food, to dancing, friendship and laughter to what I learned that motivates us in our various fashion careers. Personally, I fed off the energy of this spectacular group of women, and made the most of each day despite the exhaustion of the long days on this far-away journey. I took it all in.
Interested in hearing more? Watch for weekly posts of pictures and brief stories on my Facebook page.
From my closet to yours,