Tucked away in a pretty boutique in Tel Aviv, the saying “you wear your heart on your sleeve,” takes on a whole new meaning. Dutch eco designer Naomi Maaravi fashions both pieces and entire collections from items of sentiment. Her unique, recycled, restyled collection merges art and fashion, with the owner’s personal story involving the item or garment. As Naomi comments, “I work like a sculptor and build every garment piece by piece. I sew emotions. I cut and stitch and glue, until I feel that my story is ready to be told. “The result… an individual, re-designed collection, blending art and fashion and storytelling.”
Maaravi’s fashion philosophy began as a little girl while watching her father reinvent the new from the old. Milk bottles were crafted into lamps, string was refashioned into a carpet and old appliances became exciting new objects. “My father taught me that every item has value, no matter how old or broken,” says Maaravi. “Everything has a soul, and an identity… behind every object, there is a story.”
Naomi moved to Israel in 1997. Twelve years ago she created her first piece; a dress for her daughter, fashioned from her husband’s worn out jeans. Her husband encouraged her to quit her job and open her own studio in Tel Aviv. Since then, her pieces have been hung in stores in Amsterdam, Soho, New York and Tel Aviv. But Israel is her true home. When asked why she emigrated here, she replied,” I have always felt a strong connection to Israel. I love Holland. I was born there and it is my fatherland, but Israel is my motherland and always will be. I came here, I married an Israeli man, my children were born here, but mostly, I feel that this is my home, and I am surrounded by people like me.”
When asked what her favorite story design was, Naomi recalled a coat she had created for a woman whose mother had died when she was just ten years old. “When Yael was ten years old, her mother decided to make a dress for her for a party. Yael was afraid the dress would not be finished in time, her mother reassured her, but sadly, her mom died unexpectedly, leaving both her memory and the dress unfinished. Yael kept all the unfinished materials in a bag that her brother had used to store his marbles when he was a boy. At sixty-seven, after so many years, she came to me and asked me to make something from it. I knitted sleeves from her left over yarn and her story became a beautiful coat.”
Naomi puts her heart, her memories and her dreams in every piece she creates. “My work is genuine,” she says, “collections are designed and produced with respect for the people, for the environment, and for all that is important to me in this world.”
We all have that one piece of clothing, or that sentimental item that we can’t bear to part with. Naomi’s boutique is a chance to “tailor” your story. So, if you happen to wonder into the beautiful city of Tel Aviv, pop into Naomi’s, not just to see what you can find, but to see what you can always hold onto.