At first glance, the curved exterior of the Design Museum Holon in Israel might remind one of the Guggenheim in New York or a Richard Serra sculpture. The architect behind the country’s first museum dedicated to design is also the museum’s founder, Ron Arad. He’s a mover and shaker in the fashion world too: his product design can be seen in crystal chandeliers for Swarovski, perfume bottles with KENZO, and eyeglasses for New Eye London.
So it’s appropriate for the museum to celebrate an Israeli fashion designer during the country’s Design Week (during Passover week, March 27-30). The exhibition “Lady of the Daisies” is a tribute to Lea Gottlieb (1918-2012), designer of sexy and daring swimsuits. Born in Hungary, she came to Israel after the war in 1949. Story goes she sold her wedding ring to buy a sewing machine and fabric. Out of their cellar in Tel Aviv, she and her husband Armin started the iconic swimwear brand Gottex (an amalgamation of Gottlieb and textiles) in 1956. At its peak, in the 1970s and 1980s, Gottex sold more than a million swimsuits a year. Celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Elizabeth II, and Brooke Shields weren’t caught on the beach without one. La Liz and Brooke (nothing comes between me and my Calvins) Shields, yes, but QEII, sexy and daring? Well, you don’t sell a million suits a year–or get a museum retrospective, for that matter–without a few different styles. And for the beach, Holon comes from the Hebrew word “Hol,” which means “sand.”