Here's a festive little confession--on top of being a new American, I'm also Israeli. And over the long weekend, one friendly man standing next to me at the fireworks display had this to say: "Ah, Israel! You guys probably have heavy duty missiles, not fireworks!"
Actually, Israel celebrated its Independence day just a month ago, fireworks, parties and all, but this celebration, sadly, isn't something most of my new neighbors and friends pay attention to. They can, however, tell me the story of turmoil, conflict and "danger" surrounding my diminutive nation, especially given the latest events. I know the story well--my Facebook feed is, like a pressure cooker, simmering with polarizing ideas and reactions. And while everyone possesses different opinions, all of my Israeli friends agree on one thing: There is little but profound sadness for our country and the continuous "situation" that plagues Israel and Palestine. Most of us can't do much about it, realistically--so we turn to lightweight, seemingly meaningless distractions, like the fact that the hottest female rapper of the moment is wearing Alon Livne on the August cover of Cosmopolitan.
"I'm so proud, this is an undeniable achievement," cheered a fashion journalist on Facebook. "Go, Alon!" gushed my friend who also happens to be Livne's PR agent.
Alon Livne is a young Israeli designer who rose to fame after winning a local Project Runway-type TV contest a couple of years ago. Since then he opened a bridal studio, dressed Israel's finest celebrities (yes we have celebrities, can you believe it?!), contributed to Kelly Rowland's and Ciara's red carpet style, and set his eyes on the big game. I attended his fashion show at NYFW last fall and saw Azalea, then a fresh newcomer, in the front row. Now, just a couple months after designing a dress for Beyonce's tour (the Israeli industry was ecstatic), Livne has reached a new peak in his career.
His space-odyssey body-suit (as seen last fall on the runway) is perfect for the slick rapper; the cover screams sexy, unapologetic fun (which hopefully wasn't trimmed or slimmed). In the fashion big leagues, celebrities clad in designer-wear is de rigueur, but for Israel --who is always on the prowl for bigger fish to fry--this is about as big an accolade as Livne could muster. No wonder we're talking about it ever so loudly; this moment of home-grown fashion pride feels nothing short of a miracle right now.
It's undeniably complicated business, writing about Israel without immediately "representing" it in the reader's eyes, but of course I can't personify or accurately portray an entire country, especially one as diverse and ideologically torn as Israel. But as an Israeli-American fashion journalist, I'd like to view the latest Cosmopolitan cover as a fleeting symbol of optimism and momentary sanity, a celebration of two countries I belong to now. Israel needs this sanity, just as America needed Iggy Azalea in a gleaming body-suit. It's a win-win.
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