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Archive | 2012 | February | 13

New arts facility to be ‘architectural icon’

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February 13, 2012
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Center will have two separate wings that will house a dance school and a municipal conservatory and two auditoriums one seating 500 the other 150.

A new performing arts center, designed by one of France’s preeminent architects, is coming to Ashkelon and will boast two halls, plus space for music and dance schools. Manuelle Gautrand will be designing the 4,500-square-meter, NIS 60-million center, which will also feature a public square for outdoor performances. Gautrand will work together with architect Batya Swirsky Malul of Holon.

The center will have two separate wings that will house a dance school and a municipal conservatory. There will be two auditoriums on the ground floor – one seating 500 people and the other 150 – thus providing the city with medium-size performance venues that complement the city’s existing Heikhal Hatarbut, which seats 900. Construction will begin in about a year.

The exterior of the structure will resemble a collection of boxes, covered with perforated metallic sheeting that will lend the building the aura of an unusual sculpture. Gautrand chose to build the classrooms and workshops on top of each other, and imbue the spaces with a feeling of volume that is visible from the outside.

On the top floor there will be a lookout point with an open terrace from which one can view Ashkelon and its environs.

Gautrand explained that her design was meant to create a “lively, festive place,” but this declaration does not exactly correlate with the center’s location: far from the downtown area. Though the city had originally planned to erect the facility in a more central place, it decided to move it to give it more space and visibility.

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin said he hopes the new center will be “an architectural icon that will draw people from all over the country and the world.”

Ashkelon’s future arts center is the latest in a long line of public and private projects currently being planned in the country by foreign architects, among them the new Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design’s campus in Jerusalem (Sanaa Architects of Tokyo ), a residential tower on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv (Richard Meier of New York ) and the Safra Center for Brain Sciences building at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Givat Ram campus (Norman Foster of London ).

Recently, prominent local architects have protested the decision by Yad Hanadiv-The Rothschild Foundation to invite a number of “star” architects, four of them foreign, directly into the second round of a design competition for the new National Library building in Jerusalem, while Israeli firms must compete in a first round.

On Sunday, the National Library construction company announced the panel of judges for the first round of the competition: Spanish architect Prof. Luis Fernandez-Galiano (chairman ); Prof. Rafael Moneo, winner of the Pritzker Prize, also from Spain; Italin architect Massimiliano Fuksas; Prof. Elinoar Barzaki and architect Gabi Schwartz.

Source: Haaretz.com

Kate Middleton’s fave designer Katherine Hooker got her first inspiration in Israel

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February 13, 2012
Celebrity, Fashion
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Katherine Hooker‘s outerwear label began in 2003, after she decided to replicate a coat she had bought in Israel. “I bought a young boy’s Hasidic coat in a junk shop,” she says. “And it was an old one, like when clothes used to be made for people as opposed to mass market. I was 18 and tiny and skinny, and it fit me absolutely perfectly; it was made for a 14-year-old boy or something.” Hooker loved it so much, she found a tailor in India to replicate it for her. Her friends were so enamored with the piece that she started making coats for them, and not long after, in 2004, she opened her shop in London. That store would go on to be frequented by Kate Middleton and her sister Pippa, and royals like Princess Beatrice. Since the duchess has been photographed numerous times in pieces by Hooker, who dressed about fifteen people for the royal wedding, she has expanded her staff and her presence in the U.S., where she’s doing more trunk shows than ever before. While the bulk of Hooker’s business here comes from those, she won’t rule out eventually opening her own store in the U.S., or adding new store accounts (you can currently find her stuff at Peter Elliot Women in the Upper East Side). We chatted with Hooker about America’s royal fever, knockoffs of her work, and more.

You must be working on filling orders for the Royal Ascot. What do you think of the  stricter dress code this year?
Have they tightened up the dress code?

They’re cracking down in some sections, yes. Dresses and tops must have straps of one inch or wider — so modesty should be in effect.
Oh great, then we will be getting lots of orders. That’s great. We get lots of people who are going to the Royal enclosure, and they make a point of telling you that. “I need something, I’m going to the Royal enclosure.”

Well, you’re obviously very well-known now for dressing Kate Middleton, along with other royals like Princess Beatrice and Eugenie. When you fill orders for them, do you have to keep it a secret?
Not really.  I mean, I never talk about any of the customers really. I’ve spoken about Kate a bit, but I’ve nothing really to say except that she’s a lovely girl. She’s not my best friend.

Why do you think people are obsessed with her style?
She does have quite a strength in her style. Although it’s very conservative, there is something that sets her apart from just your average nice, conservative, well-brought-up girl. She’s managed to do something — and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. I think a lot of people think that she dresses very boringly, that she should be more fashion-forward and all that, but I think that she’s a very strong person, she has a strong personality.

I would also say to those people, she probably couldn’t get away with being more fashion-forward anyway. 
She probably doesn’t have a choice, but I think it would be her choice, because of the sort of person that she is. She’s a very straightforward, very normal, down-to-earth person, so she doesn’t particularly want to stand out, but she has a good, strong idea of what works for her. There are some things that she’s definitely like, “no” — that she doesn’t want. And there are some things that she definitely goes for. And I have so much experience with customers and how they are with themselves and how confident they are with the things that they choose, and she’s definitely the confident one. She would be in the category of the ones who really know what works, what she likes, what she doesn’t like.

There’s been a lot of discussion in the U.S. lately about copyright protection for designers, which would make it illegal for fast-fashion stores to knock off their stuff, and make it clear what design elements can be legally protected and what can’t be. What’s your view on the knockoff situation?
It’s an interesting subject because there are people who can’t afford to buy this kind of stuff [Hooker's coats can easily cost $1,000], so what do they wear? What are they expected to wear? There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be designers who design for mass market. Personally, it’s not something I feel threatened by, actually. I have things knocked off all the time, like the Alexander waistcoat, which is knocked off exactly all the time. But the services that we offer, the way we [make clothes], the fabrics that we make, there are certain things that you can’t — you can’t knock this fabric off.

What’s the difference between your coats and what someone might find at a Banana Republic or a Reiss?
They’re made much more in the way clothes used to be made before everybody had their clothes mass produced. The structured, more tailored styles are cut with high armholes so they’re very elongating, which also gives you mobility. Our Tory coat is the most expensive coat and the most expensive fabric — a double-sided cashmere merino so it’s around $1750. It’s got the six panels [of fabric in the back], which you wouldn’t normally get on High Street because  it’s a lot of wastage — it costs a lot to have so many panels. Designers will design something and then the guy who has to keep cost under control will come back and say, “Too many panels.”

Do you get crazed Kate Middleton fans coming to your shop?
We had a very sweet girl who was practically in tears. Most of them pretend that they [are not there because of Kate]. We always say, “So how did you hear about us?” Because we need to know what’s working in the marketing department.  And the ones that are Kate Middleton fans, who are usually tall and dark and look a bit like her, they go, “Oh, I don’t know how I heard about you.” Then you have the ones who are completely honest. We had this one girl who wanted the exact same blue Alexander jacket Kate has, so I had the exact same stuff that was made by a different mill, and stupidly I said, “Well, it wasn’t made by the same — ” And literally her bottom lip was starting to wobble, and she was like, “I really want the same one!” But she was very sweet.

Do you get any raucous, screaming fans?
When we did a show in L.A., there was this one woman who clearly came in just to look at me. She thought that I must be touched with some kind of royal dust or something like that.

Your pieces all seem to have very human names. How do you name things?
We name things after all of us or our puppies.

Source: New York Fashion

Meital de Razon Live at FashionBar Tel Aviv Party | FashionTV – FTV PARTIES

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February 13, 2012
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http://www.FTV.com/videos TEL AVIV- In one of the most vibrant cities of the Middle-East, the DJ blasts “God is a DJ” as the shots keep flowing and the Israeli beauties keep dancing. Corsets and barely-there lingerie in an assortment of colors and fabrics are all the rage at Tel Aviv’s own Fashion Bar. As the glitter pours down the dancers’ bodies, Israeli pop-house sensation, Meital de Razon, climbs on stage decked in a blush-satin number and adorned in a stunning diamond encrusted choker to show that music, fashion, and fun truly are her passions.

Israel’s Black Hebrews mourn Whitney Houston

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February 13, 2012
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Black Hebrews leader says Houston, who visited the group in Dimona in 2003, was source of pride for community

Israel’s Black Hebrew community is mourning the loss of Whitney Houston, who famously visited them in 2003.

Ben Ammi Ben-Israel, the leader of the 2,500-strong group, told Channel 2 TV Sunday that he considered Houston his “spiritual daughter.”

In 2003, she visited the Black Hebrews in the desert town of Dimona. The group moved to the Holy Land from the US decades ago. They believe they’re descendants of a lost tribe of Israelites.

Houston was found dead Saturday in a Los Angeles hotel room. She had struggled for years with drug and alcohol abuse. The cause of death was unknown, Houston’s publicist, Kristen Foster, said.

Ben-Israel – a former Chicago bus driver – said Houston was a source of pride for his community. He said he recently invited her back to Israel “to help her overcome her problem.”

Houston’s death came on the night before music’s biggest showcase, the Grammys. Houston had been at rehearsals for the show Thursday, coaching singers Brandy and Monica, according to a person who was at the event but was not authorized to speak publicly about it. The person said Houston looked disheveled, was sweating profusely, and liquor and cigarettes could be smelled on her breath.

At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful and peerless vocals rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Source: Ynetnews.com

Croatia, Slovenia court Israeli tourists

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February 13, 2012
Relations, Tourism
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Lake Plitvice in Croatia

Croatian, Slovenian tourism industry reps visit Tel Aviv’s International Mediterranean Tourism conference in hope of boosting bilateral tourisms ties

Delegations from Croatia and Slovenia are visiting Israel as part of the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) conference, held this week in Tel Aviv.

Both delegations said that their visit was aimed at promoting bilateral tourism between Israel, Croatia and Slovenia.

The numbers of Israeli tourists travelling to Slovenia and Croatia are growing in recent years, peaking especially in the summer. According to the Slovenian Tourist Board, approximately 28,000 Israeli tourists visit the central European country annually. The number of Israelis in Croatia in 2011 was 34,000.

The two countries have also teamed on a promotional event – “Experience Croatia, Feel Slovenia,” where Croatian and Slovenian tourist companies will meet with Israeli tourism operators and travel agents.

Slovenia is bordering the Alps and offers a variety of historic sites, Natural reservations, ski sites and spas. The leading tourist attractions are the vacation towns Portoroz and Piran, and the largest in Europe karst caves in Postojna and Skocjan.

Slovenia is also known to host international cultural, sporting, and other events. This year it will host European Capital of Culture

in Maribor with several festivals and cultural events.

Croatia, neighboring Slovenia, stretches between the mountains and the Adriatic Sea, and offers an array of activities for tourists and travelers. Bordering the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is nearly three times the size of Israel. Thousands of islands and rocky lagoons spread out almost across the entire length of the coastline, most of them rocky and uninhabited.

Croatia is also home to the city of Dubrovnik, which is a UNESCO world heritage sites. The old city walls hide within them beautiful alleyways and many cultural treasures.

Source: Ynetnews.com