Yulia Karra
June 17, Updated June 19

If you’re active on social media, there’s a good chance that in the past few years you’ve stumbled across videos of people in jaw-droppingly elaborate costumes roaming the streets of Tel Aviv

These videos surface mostly around the holiday of Purim, but the person making the costumes is busy all year round. 

Rise to prominence 

Orgad Edery, 31, is essentially a one man show running the Mustache Art Studio in South Tel Aviv.

“I’m a wearable art designer,” Edery tells ISRAEL21c. “I design costumes, props, masks and so on.”

Orgad Edery creating a costume design on a computer. Photo by Natalie Selvin
Orgad Edery creating a costume design on a computer. Photo by Natalie Selvin

The studio is one of only a handful of similar businesses in Israel, which he says all have their own niche.

Although Edery has been in the business for a while, his six-year-old studio rose to prominence after being asked to work on the Israeli version of The Masked Singer, in which celebrities face off against each other in costumes and masks to conceal their identity. 

With only a small team of a few freelance helpers, Edery has been making costumes for the Israeli iteration of the show since its inception three years ago. 

Since then, he had the opportunity to work with Netta Barzilai, Israel’s 2018 Eurovision Song Contest winner. 

Barzilai took part in a medley of past winners at the 2023 Eurovision in Liverpool, and Edery had the pleasure of designing the stage costume the singer wore for the performance. 

The king of Purim

When it comes to the most notable clients he’s ever worked with, Edery lists Barzilai right next to Aviram Carmeli.

To many, that name does not ring a bell, but Carmeli has become the unofficial king of Purim due to his outrageous costumes. Videos of him riding through the streets of Tel Aviv each year always go viral. 

Edery calls the design work he does for Carmeli “rideable stuff,” since the costumes must be attached to a skateboard. 

One of the most intricate works Edery ever made for Carmeli was his most recent Purim outfit depicting Aang, a character from Avatar the Last Airbender, riding a bison.

“It was one of the most challenging projects, which we had to do in just three days. It weighed around 30 pounds [14kg] and was made with fur-covered foam and some plastic,” he tells ISRAEL21c.  

The head of a bison that was part of Aviram Carmeli's costume. Photo by Natalie Selvin
The head of a bison that was part of Aviram Carmeli’s costume. Photo by Natalie Selvin

“We built a whole infrastructure inside to mount it on an electric skateboard. I felt like a car designer,” he laughs. 

Post-October 7

This year’s Purim felt less festive for many Israelis, including Edery. 

“This year I wanted to create a costume relating to the hostages. But then I thought that people needed a break, they’re already being fed bad news through the veins.” 

Inside the studio of Tel Aviv’s top costume designer
A mask created by Edery displayed in Mustache Art Studio. Photo by Natalie Selvin

He admits that the first few months after the start of the war in Gaza were tough in many respects.

“When something like this [the October 7 attacks] happens, the entertainment industry is pushed to the side, so I had no work for months.”

Early on, the Israeli military had a shortage of body armor. “So, I was getting bombarded with calls asking if I could sew ceramic vests,” he recalls. 

This prompted Edery to start raising money to purchase sewing machines. “But at the same time I was wondering how I was ever going to make a living again,” he admits.

A Grinch costume created by Edery displayed in his studio. Photo by Natalie Selvin
A Grinch costume created by Edery displayed in his studio. Photo by Natalie Selvin

After a few months, however, war fatigue started to get hold of the public and the entertainment world began to open up again. 

The effort 

Looking at the incredibly elaborate costumes, it feels they could take months to create. But, admits Edery, the work stretches through the time that he has available. 

“Usually it takes a month, a month and a half to complete a project, but sometimes we only have days and we make it work.”

He says that making a costume for an individual differs from making a design meant to be worn by multiple people. 

“It also depends who the customer is, what their needs are and for how long they are planning to use it,” he explains. 

“Sometimes you have to invest in details and other times in durability. Costumes made for TV are used for about a week, but costumes made for theater, for instance, are used for much longer.”

Started from the bottom 

As an avid cosplay (costume play) enthusiast, Edery started making costumes as a hobby using basic supplies, but very quickly it turned into something more. 

“I was obsessed with figuring out how they make [costumes] in the movie industry, and I started learning on my own — from sculpting to design to makeup.”

A costume of a character from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Photo by Natalie Selvin
A costume of a character from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Photo by Natalie Selvin

A software developer by trade, who spent six years in the military as a paid professional, Edery decided the world of tech wasn’t for him.

He eventually began helping other designers to make costumes, until he graduated to designing himself and working with clients directly. 

“Started from the bottom, now we’re here,” he laughs, quoting a line from a famous song by Jewish rapper Drake. 

Edery would like to test out his skill abroad. 

“For a long time I was making other people’s dreams come true and I forgot about my own. I want to see the world. I want to push myself beyond costumes – to make art for art’s sake.” 

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