A Walk of Art: Israeli designers strut their stuff as NY Fashion Week opens

Alexandra Rudshtain- Surrendering Construction (L) Nadin Ram- Barococo- Photographer Or Zehavi (C) and Tali Surit- Domina Trix- Photographer Yoav Zohar (R)
Israeli designers push the boundaries of concept, beauty and functionality in shoe design

We use them to protect our feet, get from point A to B, run faster, look taller and feel sexier. Shoes have become a necessary object of everyday life.

And now, a group of alumni and students of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Art and Design have pushed the envelope of shoe design, beauty and functionality to an entirely new level.

“A Walk of Art: Visionary Shoes” features more than 60 mind-bending, elegant, and ethereal designs from the imaginations of these Israeli designers. The exhibition debuted on January 23 at the Parasol Projects Gallery near lower Manhattan, just before the start of New York Fashion Week on February 9.

“It was important for me to focus on shoes as objects of enchantment,” exhibition curator Ya'ara Keydar tells i24NEWS, noting that shoes “also represent far more than trends or aesthetics, but also culture, history, and society.”

And the designs are enchanting indeed, with some referencing elements found in nature, while others draw on the unique characteristics of cultures around the world, and others still look like they would be worn by the alien royalty of some far off galaxy.

Some you could imagine being worn on the red carpet at the annual Met Gala or featured in a high fashion spread in Vogue magazine, while others you could stare at for ages trying to figure out not only how to put it on, but also how to walk in it.

In fact, none of the shoes were actually designed to be worn or walked in, but rather serve as an outlet for the designers to develop a narrative without the limits of comfort or marketability.

(Video: Aya Feldman's 'HyBird' shoe designs- 2016- Mentor: Eliora Ginsburg)

Designer Aya Feldman's sleek and futuristic footwear is particularly eye-catching as the shoes not only reflect the light with an iridescent shimmer, but also appear to defy gravity.

Asked about the inspiration behind her designs, Feldman explains that "questions about
life in outer space intrigue my mind and imagination. Taking inspiration from my inner world, as well as winged and hybrid creatures, I created shoes fitted to human legs."

"With only few touching points on the ground, these shoes define gravity and create
the feeling of weightless hovering," she explains. "But the rules of gravity still exist and
stabilize the human body, connecting it to the ground and reality."

Feldman designs all of her footwear around her own foot, walking in and testing them as she works.

Having the opportunity to show five pairs of her work during New York fashion week she says is "a dream come true," and in the future Feldman eyes having her own brand which will "combine my crazy designs with comfort."

The majority of the designs are focused on women's shoes, but the exhibit does feature one men’s design by Dafna Amar. When not worn, the shoe dissolves into into a pile of organic white tendrils. When put on the body, these tendrils wrap up, around the leg to form a boot-like shape.

The design, titled “Cycles” draws “comparisons between ceremonial wedding costumes and funerary and mourning costumes in the Jewish religion,” Keydar explains.

“Amar carefully examined the dialog between the two, seemingly opposite, ceremonies, to discover how closely-related they actually are,” she continues, adding “The costumes of many ethnic groups in Judaism indicate the affinity between wedding and death; in several, the bride and groom wear shrouds underneath their clothes, while the deceased are buried in their wedding attire. Drawing inspiration from these, Amar's men shoe is built in a curvilinear form, existing only when worn in a circular act, defying the fine line between eternity and transiency.”

The response to the exhibition Keydar says, has been “overwhelming!”

“The exhibition went viral on social media, and the gallery is packed daily with excited visitors,” she explained. “Our guestbook is filled with compliments written by visitors from all over the world, and we are honored to have generated such exposure to the talented graduates and students of Bezalel.”

The exhibition closes at the Parasol Projects Gallery on February 12th, however, the exhibition was built to travel easily, and Keydar says they have already received offers and requests to host the exhibition elsewhere. The collection has also been photographed and complied into a 160 page exhibition catalogue, the proceeds from which are donated towards scholarships, tuitions, and machinery for the students in Bezalel Academy.

Jessi Satin is an i24NEWS reporter and photographer

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