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Off the beaten retail path: Israeli designers on Bezalel St.by Ziva • July 28 2008
Shopping, Things to do
Like any other major city, Jerusalem has its fair share of mall-like retail chains touting the latest trends in global fashion. Walking its lovely pedestrian streets you can often pick out who's wearing what from where and when (as in, "That's a cute top she has on from Castro's 07 summer collection. I remember seeing that on sale at the Malcha mall"). Every once in a while though, we notice someone wearing something different, something striking and just very, very cool. Because dotting the city's side streets and new trendy areas, there are real Israeli designer gems to be had.
"This isn't your average street market." "This isn't the Mashbir [department store]." And "this certainly isn't Malha [mall]." Words uttered by shopkeepers of designer and one-of-a-kind clothes on Bezalel St. in Jerusalem - just a hop, skip and jump away from the city's most central pedestrian shopping area, Ben Yehuda.
Facing the old Bezalel Academy of Art and Design building in downtown Jerusalem, this newly paved pedestrian street has housed designers' and artists' stores for a few years now, but given the new addition of the artsy (read: all-black interior walls) Bezalel Cafe, designer fashion stores like Momi Mia and Homi are experiencing a resurgence of interest in Israeli designer clothes.
"Because of our location, you have to want to come here. And you're coming to find beautiful, quality clothes," explains shopkeeper Meital, who works in Momi's unnamed store at Bezalel 6. Down at number two, Israeli fashion designer Momi offers a slightly older style in a range of shirts and skirts alongside jewelry by local artists, including Bezalel students and graduates. His store at six is much smaller and yet geared for a younger clientèle, with secondhand, barely-worn pieces presenting a more vintage and retro chic. The prices are also much more accessible for students and struggling artist types.
Up at Bezalel 8 is Homi's: home to the best of Israeli fashion and designers. From bags to jewelry, every day to evening, Homi casts her individual eye on everything she selects to sell - and it shows. Major designers like Tal Beck and Talli Imbar to newcomers like Lily Brush and Dikla Kedem. Here, trends are secondary to fashion; meaning, you may pay a little more for these designer threads but it won't be out of style or worn out by next summer. "People come here for something special," Homi boasts. "This isn't what you come across everyday, both In terms of our geography in Jerusalem and of what you can find in more mall-based stores."
In fact, even wearing one of these designer pants, skirts, dresses or tops - or even accesorizing with supercute bags from Giveret or classy totes from Estella - will bring you so many compliments that you'll forget what ever brought you to the mall or bigger chains in the first place.
Ziva Haller Rubenstein writes about art and design in, by and from Israel on her blog Designist Dream and for other leading blogs and websites. Photos of Bezalel St.'s pedestrian mall shops by Ziva Haller Rubenstein.
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