Life’s a Beach – a tribute to Lea Gottlieb
It’s time for the annual Holon Design Week, and the opening exhibition focuses on the work of incredible fashion designer Lea Gottlieb. The “Lady of the Daisies” had the opportunity of visiting the Museum and taking part in weaving the dream of an exhibition in her honor before she passed away last year.
Lea was born in 1918 in Hungary, the only child of a poor Jewish family. Once the Nazis entered, her husband was shipped to a labor camp, and Lea and her two young daughters relocated from village to village. In 1949, the family came to Israel and Lea began producing rain coats, but as there was almost no rain in the country, she decided to try something new: fashionable beachwear.
Lea’s imagination turned the tiny enterprise into the internationally successful Gottex, whose products are sold in 75 countries. The world’s best photographers photographed the bathing suits, and international super models, Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell wore her creations. One of her most faithful customers was Princess Diana, and actresses Brooke Shields and Elizabth Taylor were also among the greatest fans.
Lady Gottlieb loved flowers: when out in the street, she often held a bunch of flowers up to her face, so that if she encountered any Nazis, they would take her for a regular peasant girl. Flowers figured prominently in Gottlieb’s fabric designs, usually in bold, eye catching colors.
She continued designing a new collection every year up to 2002, when she resigned from Gottex. In 2012, at the age of 94, Lea Gottlieb passed away in her home in Tel Aviv. Her motto was “I love creating something out of nothing.” But as they say, “The Show Must Go On”: in 2009 Gottex hired the company’s new creative director, Molly Grad, who I also had the chance to interview at the exhibition opening event.
Molly graduated at London’s Design School Central Saint Martins in 2001. She worked for Stella McCartney as a key member of both design ethos and production. Her next stop was at Yves Saint Laurent, and a few years later she was then hired as senior designer at Ferre in Milan. Molly gained numerous awards for her breathtaking fashion illustrations. In her hands the Gottex phenomenon surely lives on forever and more.
The rights of the photos I used belong to the artists, and not to www.whitecityboy.com. Sketches & illustrations are by Gottexs’ Creative Director Molly Grad. The post also includes retrospective photos of designs which are not part of the “Lady of the Daisies” exhibition. Exhibition photos: Yael Engelhart.