Textile designer Tzuri Gueta grew up on a kibbutz in the north of Israel. Now he’s using that contact with rural living to create beautiful and intricate jewelry and fabrics for fashion houses like Jean Paul Gautier, Giorgio Armani and Dior.
Lace injected with silicone, jewelry modelled after cacti and coral, fabrics that look like they have emerged from the sea – what is it about Israel’s textile designer Tzuri Gueta that has attracted the attention of haute-couture design houses such as Jean Paul Gautier, Giorgio Armani and Dior?
A master of silicone, and today based in Paris, Gueta traveled to France about three years after graduating from Israel’s Shenkar School of Engineering and Design in the mid 1990s. There with his portfolio, Gueta caught the attention of a designer’s studio which offered him a job.
Looking back, “It’s funny for me as well,” he tells ISRAEL21c. Gueta went from living in a kibbutz, an Israeli farming cooperative, to living in Paris and designing fabrics and accessories for Gautier and the best fashion houses in the world.
“When I asked myself in the kibbutz where I would be in the future, I would never imagine that in four or five years I would have such a different life,” he says.
“At the kibbutz I was teaching horse riding and was always with my boots and cowboy T-shirts, and thought this was the most fashionable thing in the world.”
But it was at the kibbutz, Kibbutz Shomrat in Israel’s north, where he was in contact with the rural living and simple life that ultimately inspired his earthy and marine-like creations so popular today.
“I think it was the kibbutz that gave me all these possibilities – I had a very inspiring life that helped me find myself, to find my identity to create, and to be closer to nature,” he says.
“There is something missing in the usual life, when we see flowers and fruits in a magazine and take them for granted. At a kibbutz, we follow the growth of nature from the beginning.”
An inventor of patented silicone jewelry and textile techniques, his creations are oddly soft to the touch, and feel natural and light on the body, say women who have bought his work.
Jean Paul Gaultier’s fixation for Gueta was revealed this January, in the designer’s Summer 2008 collection showcased in Paris. Gueta’s underwater-inspired silicone jewelry has also made a splash in Gautier’s jewelry collection.
The 39-year-old, who has lived in Paris since 1997, has also worked with Thierry Mugler, Giorgio Armani, the House of Dior, Maurizio Galante and Givenchy. It’s essential for him to work directly with the designer and not through assistants, he says.
“It is important for me that it is a collaboration. I propose ideas and then they propose,” he says.
American women who want to look like mermaids who’ve swept in from the sea don’t have to be jealous of Parisian ladies. Gueta’s accessories and jewelry can be bought in the US too – through the Museums of Modern Art, in cities such as New York, Detroit, Chicago and San Francisco.