Photo: Isri Halpern. Design: Menusi-Benoish. Styling: Nurit Bat-Yaar

Photo: Isri Halpern. Design: Menusi-Benoish. Styling: Nurit Bat-Yaar
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Israel Fashion Art" and the ATA exhibit.

The ATA Kova Tembel Hat from "Israel Fashion Art" album book by Nurit Bat-Yaar

This 1954 photo may not be a typical "Israel Fashion Art" "שיכרון עיצובים - אמנות האופנה בישראל" picture as the book concentrates on the creative and imaginative aspects of Israeli designs, yet it is included in it since it depicts the pioneers' garb made from sturdy ATA haky cotton and its most famous accessory the "kova tembel" hat. This hat became one of the typically Israeli head-cover in the early days of the state. It protected the heads of kibuts inhabitans, urban youth during their trips around the country, kids on the beach and workers in the fields. Along with the "biblical sandals" it became the symbol the the Tsabar born in the holly land.

The reason I'm showing it here at this time is an exhibit devoted to ATA at Museum Erets Israel which will open next week. ATA was the first and largest textile conglomorate in Israel. It was founded in the 1930' by the Muller family and specialised in quality cotton basics providing the British Army's uniforms, and Israel's need for haki working clothes used to build and protect the country. ATA's "presentor" was David Ben-Gurion himself whose haky's slacks and shirt helped him to express his ideology about the importance of creating new kibutsim and other settlements and protecting them and give up personal adornments in favour of public ideals.
Ben-Gurion with Itsak Rabin and Igaal Alon in ATA's haky uniforms in 1949 photo from "Israel Fashion Art" album-book.

At some point, ATA also offered embroidered Rubashka shirts which were worn by 1940' and 1950's youth on festive occasions. The hand-embroidered ones were supplied to the ATA stores by Rut Dayan who provided work to newcomer embroiderers. While at Maskit, Rut Dayan used ATA's cotton fabric for Maskit's less expensive printed dresses.  At Maskit, the fabrics were adorned with Maskit's typical Israeli colorful motives such as vineyard leafs, menoras, and Morocan ceramic inspired prints.
ATA was also an exporter that participated in the Israel Fashion Weeks held by the Export Institute. In the 1960' and in the 1970' the company hired fashion designers and tried to appeal to fashion-oriented men and women. However at that time most of its local clients were middle-aged men and women who remembered and appreciated the quality cotton outfits. The younger crowd prefered the boutiques' more swinging approach to fashion.

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