January 23, 2003
Kabbalah Fashion Statement
David Shamouelian believes he has tapped into what he thinks is a sure-fire marketing tool: 4,000 years of Jewish mysticism.
"How do you explain this? You walk into the store and want to buy a blouse for yourself, but you end up buying a dress. Why? Because there is internal energy in the clothes," said Shamouelian, whose clothing company, Sharagano, has signed an exclusive deal with the Los-Angeles-based Kabbalah Center to market clothes using the once-sacred symbols of the Kabbalah.
"The product is drawing you to it, not the other way around," he said. "That is what we learned from the Kabbalah 4,000 years ago at the time of Abraham."
Shamouelian, 24, hopes that supernatural forces will draw shoppers straight to his new clothing line inspired by the 72 names of God and the teachings of the Kabbalah Center, which offers courses in Jewish mysticism and spirituality.
He has already released the first of a series of designs: T-shirts inscribed with the Hebrew letters lamed, alef and vav, one of the 72 divine names in Kabbalistic teachings. The shirts, retailing from $32 to $40, will be available through SharaganoParis.com and 72namesofGod.com, with all proceeds going to the Kabbalah Center.
The center teaches that "these three letters give you the power to conquer your ego.... Simply focus your eyes on the letters, then visualize destroying your ego," says an advertisement for a white baby-T tank top.
The creative spark for the clothing line came from a video made by the one superstar who in so many ways defines the word ego -- Madonna.
The singer has studied at the Kabbalah Centre for six years, and in the video for "Die Another Day" -- the title song for the latest James Bond movie -- she has lamed, alef and vav tattooed on her arm
Rabbi Yehuda Berg, who is author of the book, "The Power of Kabbalah," said he hopes that Kabbalah is going to have an even "wider reach" as a result of the new clothing line.
We want to "bring it out to the masses," said Shamouelian, who was born in Iran but moved to New York when he was 2. He became involved with the Kabbalah Centre 14 years ago. The center's other famous participants include Sandra Bernhard, Naomi Campbell and Guy Ritchie.
The center has already done well with another fashion statement, the Red String, sometimes called Rachel's String.
A spokeswoman for the center said the string has been wrapped around Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem and is purportedly imbued with the biblical matriarch's energy, protecting the wearer against the negative influences of the evil eye. The Kabbalah Center sells a packet of six strings for $26.
Celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Rosie O'Donnell, Roseanne and, of course, Madonna have been known to wear the bracelet -- an attempt to ward off the evil lens of paparazzi, perhaps? -- Mica Rosenberg, Jewish Telegraphic Agency