Flanked by two large flags — one Israeli and the other American — fashion models strutted down a long, white catwalk, showing off versatile fashions by local Israeli and Jewish designers during a fashion show at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on May 12, held in celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut.
“What a wonderful, fashionable way to celebrate Israel’s 63rd birthday,” said Illana Shoshan, a former Miss Israel who emceed the event along with actress Shirly Brener.
Organized by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF), an international nonprofit that provides educational, cultural, social and recreational support for soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and their families, the fashion show highlighted the IDF’s struggles in defending Israel and their role in humanitarian efforts, including disaster relief in the aftermath of the recent Japan earthquake.
The invitation-only show featured 34 models wearing dresses by 10 Los Angeles-based designers, all either Israeli American or Jewish, including Bar-el, Gypsy 05 and Natalia Romano. Approximately 350 people attended the show.
Of the nearly three dozen models featured, the majority were women. They were escorted down the runway by some 10 men wearing IDF uniforms.
In addition to celebrating Yom HaAtzmaut, which took place May 10, the fashion show marked the launch of a new T-shirt campaign by FIDF, the IDF Humanitarian World Tour Tee, with the slogan “Make a Difference,” for $36. The shirts are available on the FIDF Web site, and proceeds will help raise additional funds for FIDF.
“We want to communicate to IDF, ‘Let’s all of us make a difference for the IDF soldiers, because they make a difference every day for us,” Richard Mahan, deputy director of the FIDF Western region, said. “And they make a difference every day for people around the world through all the humanitarian efforts that they undertake, as evidenced [by] Japan, Haiti, Kosovo and many, many more [places],” he added.
Mahan was in attendance at the fashion show, along with Miri Nash, executive director of the FIDF Western region. Four IDF soldiers, currently active, were also at the show, flown to Los Angeles by FIDF for the event.
Of the many dresses and fashions featured, one new dress was created by each designer specifically for the show and inspired by the blue and white of Israel’s flag.
“It’s a great reason — Israel, independence,” Bar-el said of why she participated in the show. “I mean, what else could we do for the community? Come on!”