I was one hour late for the interview because of very heavy traffic in Tel Aviv. Very charming and a bit shy, Alon Livne seemed didn’t mind I was so late. Unfortunately he was rushing to another meeting and we had only half an hour!
I’ve seen a lot of articles and pictures of you, you’re a very handsome guy, how has this affected your career?
It’s the first time someone has asked me this kind of question, so it’s a little embarrassing! But honestly I don’t think that there is any connection between how I look and how it affects my my career. I never thought about it actually, I never use it or try to use it. And I think that I look okay, it’s not like I am particularly that out of this world attractive!
I know that you’ve had experience working with Alexander McQueen as well Roberto Cavalli, what was the most important thing that you’ve learned from those experiences?
When I worked for Alexander McQueen, the most important thing that I learned was that you can’t have limits in design, you can’t stay set within certain boundaries. If you have certain particular ideas in your mind, you must just do it completely, without thinking about what people will say. You can’t hesitate in your creative impulses, you have to proceed without fear, just go ahead and do it.
And yet at the same time you are creating many collections from season to season, there is a lot of pressure to satisfy your customers, what do you think you bring to your customers?
I think the quality that I have which is quite significant in my work would probably be the uniquely signature style, something that is very representative of me and my personal taste. You can see it in the shapes and you can see it in the material, that three-dimensional look which makes my clients want to come back, because if you have something specific that people recognize, that helps. It’s almost like your logo, it’s a personal branding
Does dressing celebrities help endorse your brand?
Definitely. I work with many celebrities, from Beyonce to Lady Gaga, from Noami Campell to the Kardashians. So of course, obviously it helps with the press, people are curious about you, they want to see who is the designer that works with Jennifer Lopez or whatever other big name, so it helps in getting your name out there.
How do you think your first New York fashion week affected your career?
I didn’t know what to expect from my first fashion week, and it ended up being great! Beyonce’s stylist came to me and told me that my work was amazing, and that they had never seen anything like it. They wanted to try it on Beyonce and on Naomi Cambell. Everything happens very quickly during the fashion shows, but i think if your product doesn’t speak for itself, nothing can help you. You can go to New York, you can go to Paris, you can have lots of money, but the product has to have an impact, the dress in itself must be amazing, otherwise it is meaningless.
Frankly speaking, Israel is not considered a prime destination for fashion hunting. You had a choice to travel around the world, you had already established yourself in Western countries and could have stayed there, why did you come back?
First of all, I came back because this is my home, I love Israel, and it’s very hard for me to leave my family, to leave my friends. On top of that, it comes so naturally for me to create and work here: I have a huge, beautiful studio with plenty of space and 25 seamstresses, personally I prefer to go back and forth between here and New York, I’ll stay there for one month, sometimes two weeks, and I always have the option, to live abroad, but for now I like to be able to go everywhere, while having my base right here in my beloved homeland.
Where do your gowns have the most success?
Well you’ve seen my bridal collection, which has been very successful all over the place, I’ve sold to almost 20 points around the world: throughout Italy, in Paris, as well as various stores in the us… all over the globe!
And your other collections?
The other collections are created in accordance to specific orders, to certain special orders such as for Neiman Saks as well as small boutiques that have all sorts of fantastic one of a kind stuff, with very different fashion parameters.
Behind every creative product there’s always a message, what message do you want to send for a woman who buys your clothes?
I would say that I don’t have a message specifically for women, my work’s message is more pointed towards the way I see fashion in general, and for me it is something that must continuously move forward, that must bring on new future ideas… for me to design is to see what the future will bring, what the new big innovation will be, it’s not very interesting to design the classic beautiful dress, in my opinion that’s what inspires me to be a fashion designer.
Some photographers need to fall in love with their model in order to have the proper inspiration, what’s going on in your head when you’re designing, when you’re doing your initial sketches?
I always need music around me, I have always loved music, so for me every collection is inspired by totally different sounds. But I can’t tell you my recent musical inspiration, it’s a work in progress! The creative process is different for everyone. One of my last collections was actually from a song by an amazing group called GNV Nation, the name of the song is ‘Ghost’, the way I reacted to this song set the tone to creating this collection.
What I listen to is constantly changing, but recently the three most played artists in my iTunes are probably Goldfrapp, Florence and the Machine, and Lana del Rey…
Most of your dresses are very structured and geometrical, do you maybe have a background in engineering or architecture?
I’m really inspired by shapes and nature, for me being a fashion designer is more like being an artist, in art you don’t have specific rules, that something must be fabric or must be flowy isn’t necessary, so for me to create a garment that is structured or three dimensional always becomes something that is very different. It is wearable art, its not something that you can have in five sizes and in different colors, each is unique.
Are you at the point in life that you always wanted to arrive to, or do you want to push further?
I’m always hungry, I always want more! But I began this year with a purpose, to find myself from the very beginning. I had started to feel that I’m a bit lost, that I don’t know exactly which way I wanted to move forward, so the last year was more for personal research towards what I wanted to do, what kind of designer I want to be in the future. The next collection will be something very new, something very fresh.
How do you see Israeli fashion developing right now?
In my opinion, in my business, being a local fashion designer in Israel is very hard, its almost impossible… the industry here is weak, and I don’t see a future for fashion here. It’s a shame because there are so many interesting and talented designers, but its such a small country, surrounded by problems. Every few years we have a war here, so its really difficult, especially for young designers. All my interns here want to have their own place, or work in a fashion house, but they don’t really have any here, it’s hard to find opportunities.