Fashion does go beyond the borders of London, Milan, Paris and New York. Israel’s Shenkar College of Design, for example, is ranked as number 15 on Fashionista’s list of best 50 fashion design schools in the world. The beauty of these not-so-conventional fashion cities, is that they don’t have any traditions they tend to stick to. Even in London we hold on to the tradition of breaking the rules and being ‘forward’. In turn, our newness has become a tradition.
Now, look at a country like Israel, where engineering and fashion design students are put together to do projects. Where Orthodox and Arabs both walk the streets. Where fashion and technology go hand in hand.
“I have a friend whose kids are printing stuff — there are programs that are very easy to manipulate and control. Kids can do it, I mean, they’re six and printing stuff!”
3D printed graduate collection
A recent graduate from Shenkar caught our eye, Noa Raviv, who has 3D printed most of her graduate collection. What would her dresses retail for? Thousands of pounds. Why? It takes ages to make. How come? Each pattern has to be modified to the customer’s body proportion, which is a laborious process. In addition to that, everything that is not 3D printed, is hand stitched or hand embroidered. “Everything is made specially for the pattern. These are things in the design that mean that even if I did remake a dress, it will not look the same,” Noa says, when I ask her if garments become pretty much ‘identical’ when they are 3D printed. We talk over coffee at King’s Cross in September, as she came to London to exhibit her work at the 3D Print Show. There, she won the Designer of the Year award and beat Pringle of Scotland.
“Everything is replicated and reproduced in our modern culture; it’s all about the transmission of files from one to another.”
Copy culture started with the Romans
We speak about travelling through Europe and looking at art, and she tells me about the cultural part of her collection’s starting point: “When I was thinking about originality, I stumbled upon an artist who has been scanning the classical sculptures and reprints them in 3D. Well, the Greek classical sculpture was copied by the Romans, and then they were copied in turn during the Renaissance. It’s funny, because now this guy comes and scans it, which means that you can print it and have it in your home, if you like. It becomes sort of kitsch, that you’re now able to just put ‘greek sculpture’ in the garden… I thought about the evolution of something that is continuously copied until it loses its meaning, and about how everything is replicated and reproduced in our modern culture.”
“You have a lot of space for innovation and trying new things when you don’t have tradition. There is no right or wrong.”
At Shenkar, Noa tells me, there is also a department for electrical engineering, and each student from electrical was paired with a student from fashion during the course of their studies. She believes that in Israel, there is a lot of place for these kind of collaborations between designers, engineers and textiles. It sounds like they push the innovation benchmark quite a bit. “Shenkar is a great college, and Israel, as I said earlier, is a small and new country which is evolving. We don’t have all this tradition like you have here in London. In a way, it’s very good, because you have a lot of space for innovation and trying new things when you don’t have tradition. There is no right or wrong. You can be influenced by any other country, or from within the country. We have so many different religions and ways of dressing on the street — even that in itself is inspiring.”
They seem definitely seem to be on a different level with 3D printing, because Noa tells me about the younger generation’s familiarity with it. “People already have 3D printers at home and it’s not that expensive. I have a friend whose kids are printing stuff — there are programs that are very easy to manipulate and control. Kids can do it, I mean, they’re six and printing stuff!” Noa says. I notice that her brown eyes light up with excitement when she talks about printers. She takes a sip of her drink. She makes me wonder, did engineers in the 80s spoke with such passion about their newfound fax machines?