This is a guest post by Anne Kleinberg
There was a time, not isao long ago, when the words Israeli Haute Couture could be considered an oxymoron. There was nothing elegant or sophisticated about evening dresses. And bridal gowns? A profusion of puffiness and petticoats!
But times changed. Dramatically. In a country known as the start-up nation, the bridal industry has captured the world’s attention and is reported to be valued at billions of shekels. The wedding gown creations of Israel’s designers are nothing less than stunning and they are being paraded out onto the world’s catwalks and red carpets – big time. The names of these houses are uttered in hushed, revered tones on both sides of the Atlantic, and beyond.
While the centre of the bridal dress district was once Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, it now expands out into trendy Jaffa, the southern coastal city of Ashdod and beyond. And although Israeli brides tend to rent their gowns (for considerably less money than buying), many designers sell in bridal salons throughout the world as well as via the Internet. The shops vary from small, personalized boutiques run by classically trained dressmakers to empires run by businesswomen and their daughters.
Berta Baliti was born in Egypt, emigrated to Israel with her family as a small child and parlayed her degree from the famed Shenkar College in Tel Aviv into a world-renown bridal dress empire. She describes her designs as “avant-garde” and they certainly exude sexiness and daring, femininity and elegance with their plunging necklines, flowing trains and delicate veils. She has boutiques in many countries and her gowns have graced magazine covers, and bodies, throughout the world.
Galia Lahav is of Russian descent, born into a family of dressmakers. From a modest beginning creating ivory lace appliques to establishing a design house saturated in extravagance and luxury, a Galia Lahav gown is not for the faint of heart. Her collections epitomize a golden age with evocative names like Ivory Tower, La Dolce Vita, Empress, Lourdes & Les Reves Bohemians. Pearls cascading down a graceful back, mermaid tails, fringes, feathers & ruffles embellish her dresses as jewels in the crowns of royalty.