Reflecting On Fashion With Naama Bezalel

by Roza Sinaysky | 02.12.13

Naama Bazalel is a house hold name in the Israeli fashion industry. She established herself as top female designer and this year she is celebrating her 20th anniversary in business. I thought this was a pretty good reason to interview this vintage loving lady and see what has change around here since she began, back then twenty years ago…

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So, tell us how it all started? How did you become a fashion designer? 
NB: It all started when I completed my two years of national army service and was accepted for fashion studies at Shenkar College. Shortly thereafter I worked as an assistant for a designer. It did not take me long to realise that in order for me to become really good at what I do, I must design my own line that I truly love and feel connected to; a line that will concur with my own personal taste. So I started my own small business, initially working from home and expanded from there. The intuition and insight I embraced at the early stage of my career, to be true and loyal to my personal taste and not following external influences, enabled me to relatively quickly develop my own distinct signature that is recognised with my name until today.

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You are celebrating 20 years in the business, how did it change through the years?
 The market is very different now than when I first started. Back then I was part of the first generation of young Israeli fashion designers. The first boutique shops were opened and there was a great thirst for young designer clothes, with customers yearning for something new and different. Since then the fashion industry has evolved and gone through many changes. Nowadays there is a flood of young designers. Many do not survive and struggle to remain relevant and competitive against the mass intrusion of international fashion chains that provide their clientele with cheap alternatives. However, those who are still seeking unique, high quality clothes, that are stylish and well cut, do turn to the Israeli designer labels.

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As someone who takes references from retro and vintage inspirations, how do you cope with designing for the contemporary woman?
My clothes are inspired by the retro periods and have a nostalgic flair but at the same time are very modern, fashionable and embrace contemporary trends. They are designed for the needs of the modern woman in terms of shape, fabrics and style. There is a significant difference between a true vintage, old fashioned garment and a modern outfit designed today, drawing inspiration from the times long go.

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Who is the Naama Betzalel woman?
NB: When I am designing I envisage a woman that both appreciates and seeks uniqueness. A person that wants a look that is very chic and stylish. She is probably a busy, intelligent, knowledgeable and assertive woman. She expresses herself through the clothes she wears and derives self-confidence from her appearance. Strong on the inside yet delicate and refined from the outside. Women that are attracted to my style which is a bit naive, are looking for modern high quality clothes that are different but contemporary. Classic is a key word. My clothes are worn long beyond one season; they are stylish and in vogue for years.

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What does it mean to you to be an Israeli designer?
NB: A good Israeli designer is one who is influenced by current world affairs but lives here, and understands the special needs derived from our climate, the shape of the Israeli women’s body, life style, culture and mentality and works within these parameters. S/he will develop an authentic style that integrates with the global fashion scene while maintaining his/her own statement.

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Who are your fashion icons, or is there anyone you want to see in your clothes?
NB: My fashion icons are Coco Chanel, Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn. More recently I like the look of Michele Williams and Anne Hathaway.

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Tell us about your work process, how does a collection begin?
My work process begins by deciding on the mood I wish to set for the collection. I develop a few story lines that provide the framework for the new collection by setting color ranges and selecting fabric swatches. I then get to work on the shapes and silhouettes, the ratio of the different items that I am about to design, ensuring that there is a good structure. Thus all pieces of the puzzle bit by bit are put into place until there is a complete collection.

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All images are taken from Naama’s winter look book, shot by Goran Ljubuncic. For stockists and more info please click here.


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