By Sarah Carnvek
That Tel Aviv is brimming with innovative fashion designers is known. The city hosts two annual international fashion weeks, and regularly sends local designers to strut down foreign catwalks.
Another exciting fashion event to hit the city was a three-day creative journey into local style, called "Form & Fabric: The Cutting Edge of Israeli Fashion, Art & Design." The March event examined the relationship between the fashion garment as an art form, and art as a fashion garment.
Co-produced by the Tel Aviv Arts Council, TLV Style Boutique Tour, and Lili & Bloom spiritual center, Form & Fabric gave participants the opportunity for personal meetings with Israeli fashion designers, academics, stylists, photographers, bloggers and artists; and entry to a fashion and art exhibition in addition to workshops and lectures.
"It was unique because we focused on young designers. We wanted them to benefit from it," says Jay M. Shultz of the Tel Aviv Arts Council. "We got tremendous feedback. People bought a lot from young designers and that made me happy. We are connecting young people to the best of Israeli culture."
Sixteen up-and-coming designers of clothing and accessories took part in the event, including Naim Qasim, FROG by Einat Burg, Adam Gefen, Imbar Shahak and Maria Berman.
Arab-Israeli designer Qasim was the headline presenter of the inaugural gala event.
"Culture and reality of the daily practice in life have been the source of inspiration of my own world -- the world of fashion. When I connect with these sources, I feel more complete and well connected to myself, I then tap into my inner thoughts and manifest them through creative art. And that's how I started my fashion brand," said Qasim.
Startup nation in arts
The Tel Aviv Arts Council is not an official municipal organization. It was started by Shultz, a 36-year-old American immigrant, who saw the need to bring Tel Aviv art and culture to the world inside and outside of Israel.
"The Israeli climate is very cultured," says Shultz. "Israel is not just innovation in best technology -- it's also a startup nation in the arts. Just like the high-tech field, we have well-known famous musicians, artists and designers. The Israeli art world needs to be taken seriously."
Form & Fabric featured workshops, lectures
and exhibitions. Photo by Marilyn Ambach
When Shultz arrived in Israel in 2006, he did not find any of the organized young professional educational and networking communities that are popular in big cities around the world.
So he founded TLV Internationals, a list-serve about what’s happening in Tel Aviv for the English-speaking, globally minded young professional who is living, studying, working, or visiting the White City.
Seeing the interest sparked by TLV Internationals, Shultz also set up a bunch of non-profit groups – among them the Tel Aviv Arts Council.
The Arts Council has held numerous other events, partnering with leading cultural institutions including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Batsheva Dance Company, Shenkar College, the Cinematheque, the Israel Museum, Fresh Paint and Tel Aviv Fashion Week.
"We celebrate the creative culture of Israel by providing a venue for young professional creatives and lovers of the arts to gather while attending lectures and demonstrations by world-class artists, performers, and technologists," the council's mission statement reads.
Jay Shultz: “The Israeli art world needs to be taken seriously”
Shultz, who also collects and sells antique art, says the monthly events are aimed at the international community in Tel Aviv but tend to attract Israelis as well. They also attract foreign press and embassy officials.
Form & Fabric, like other council events, was professionally produced and charged a modest fee. The event sold out and there was a long waiting list.
Shultz says he always makes sure there's an educational aspect to council’s happenings.
"There are enough parties in Tel Aviv," he says. "People are coming to [the events to] learn about arts, culture."