Maskit Fashion Houseby Sarah Blum | 05.07.18
Maskit, Israel’s first fashion house, was established by Ruth Dayan in 1954 during a time of hope and uncertainty in the Middle East. Dayan set out to launch Israel into the global fashion arena, while simultaneously finding means to employ the influx of new immigrants who had arrived from Europe and surrounding countries following the establishment of the state in 1948.
Dayan firmly grounded her company’s ideas and design processes in Israel, using local materials and employing local craftswomen. The name “Dayan” itself is derived from the biblical word for an ornamental object. In this spirit, the fashion brand was built on a philosophy that celebrates meaning and tradition. This vision was implemented by the designer Fini Leitersdorf, who shaped Maskit into one of the most iconic brands to have emerged from the Middle East.
Leitersdorf’s “Desert Coat” was one of Maskit’s key designs, revolutionizing Israeli fashion and setting it amongst the best international houses. Later, Maskit dressed the likes of Audrey Hepburn and was stocked in notable department stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus as well as Saks Fifth Avenue. From a small country, an immense brand was formed, establishing a marketplace for contemporary Middle Eastern design layered with hints of Yemenite embroidery, earthy Bedouin colors and opulent jewelry.
Over time, it became more difficult for the brand to compete with the international market, and by 1994 Maskit was forced to close its studio. In 2013, Ruth Dayan met Sharon Tal, a graduate of Shenkar School of Design and the Head of Embroidery at Alexander McQueen. This meeting of minds led to the re-establishment of Maskit under the leadership of both Dayan and Tal.
The inaugural collection debuted on March 12, 2014, at Tel Aviv Fashion Week. Sharon Tal’s vision for Maskit was to create a ready-to-wear collection of couture quality, embedded with the founding ideals of the brand along with traditional Middle Eastern designs and patterns presented with a contemporary twist.
Maskit’s beautiful home on Hatzorfim Street 14, Jaffa, houses the flagship store (ready-to wear and bridal collection), showroom, studio and extensive archive.
Photos by Amit Gosher