Fashion Matters: Israeli Students Persevere During Gaza–Israel Conflict
There is no immediate end in site for the conflict in the Gaza Strip. NPR cites the death toll at over 1,000, with civilians making up about 73% of the deaths counted. Amidst the violence, citizens are finding beauty wherever they can. At Shenkar College of Engineering and Design , the leading fashion college in Israel, beauty is found in fashion.
During the evening of July 8 the college held their final fashion show which featured clothing creations from graduating students. Around the same time, Tel Aviv was in the midst of an attack. Since the fashion show was going on in an exhibition space and not a bomb shelter, the students and their teacher had to make a decision: evacuate to safety or continue the show.
The Program Director, Leah Perez, told the New York Times that the decision was very difficult but finally she voted in favor of fashion. “The students deserved to have their work be seen,” she told New York Times’ fashion director, Vanessa Friedman.
It was not just Perez who chose beauty over fear that day. Friedman reports that almost none of the 700 guests in attendance left the fashion show. Teachers, students, models, parents, and journalists all stayed to watch the show, despite the violence going on around them.
Perez recognizes that to many it may seem absurd, foolish even, to risk a dangerous situation for something like fashion. However in Perez’s own words, “Life goes on, no matter what is happening outside.”
Although fashion and design are not always the most important things on people’s minds, they do exist in every country. Fashion is not defined by runway shows, but rather by the way people dress. It is part of every culture. Vanessa Friedman states an obvious truth in her article: “In almost every country that is traditionally considered a danger zone, there is fashion.”
Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Zambia are examples of countries that have made room for fashion, during times of political and civil turbulence. In fact, not only is there room for fashion, but the fashion community is growing. In Israel, the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design’s program has doubled since it first opened. Beyond just standing their ground, designers are making an impact.
When the fashion show finally came to an end in Tel Aviv everyone was in tears. The show was beautiful, everyone was safe, and coincidentally the final song at the show was a famous Israeli song called “You and I Will Change the World.”
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