From IDF to the Catwalk

Israeli Gita Sidikman Debuts at New York Fashion Week

By Alyson Krueger

Published September 07, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
Model Soldier: Gita Sidikman and a model at her Thursday Fashion Week show.
Alyson Krueger
Model Soldier: Gita Sidikman and a model at her Thursday Fashion Week show.

Walking into New York’s Lincoln Center, a venue at this year’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, is like entering an alternate universe. Muscled security guards watch over the doors, making sure only ticket-holders or grungy looking camera crews make it past their presence. Back stage, models, who all seem to look alike, disappear in and out of black curtained areas, getting final touches on their make-up, outfits and hair. Out of all the chaos and activity emerges Gita Sidikman, a little-known Israeli designer who seems poised to join fashion’s big leagues.

While the famous names of fashion — Nicole Miller and Diane Von Furstenberg — are mostly showing later on in the week, a few of the early shows are dedicated to the work of student designers. And this one, hosted Thursday evening by the Art Institute of New York, seems to be all about Sidikman, even though eleven other designers are exhibiting their work. Before the show, everybody from the public relations manager to the photographer seem to be calling her name, trying to get her attention. The goody bags that await each ticket holder contain promotional materials for her design, a tote bag that reads “Gita Omri” (her brand name; “Omri” means “my nation” in Hebrew) and a hand-written note from her thanking them for attending. While all the other students had to go through a demanding audition process to be in the show, Sidikman was the only one to be asked to join by the producers.

Sidikman is passionate about design, because for her, it’s still a new discovery. “I’m not one of these girls who wanted to go into fashion my entire life,” she says. “Everybody’s like that.” But Sidikman didn’t begin designing until she was in the Israel Army.

Growing up in the Old City of Jerusalem and later Efrat, Sidikman always looked forward to her time in the army. “I am very connected to my Jewish roots, and I am very much in love with Israel and the idea of Israel,” she says. “To me, doing the two years in the army is giving a piece of yourself to the country and being a part of something and not just living someplace.” But only once she got there did she realize she could use the opportunity to take evening classes on the side. Thinking she might be interested in event production, she enrolled in a design school in Tel Aviv, but soon ended up taking styling classes. She remembers one day in class when she saw a dress by Alexander McQueen that “just took my breath away…that was my turning point, I think, when I said, ‘I want to do that.’” And the army not only provided her first exposure to design; it also gave her the skills to follow through on projects, something she always found difficult, until she learned discipline from her days in the service.

When seeing her show, it’s hard to imagine that Sidikman ever struggled. Her designs, on display later that night on the catwalk, scream confidence, freedom, and sexiness. The clothes were cut from bright orange fabric and black leather; many of the models wore over-sized motorcycle helmets, meant to evoke the freeing feeling of a ride on the open road. Audience members, including many seasoned fashionistas, gasped over some items. When Sidikman walked to end of the catwalk at the end of her show — blushing but smiling very widely — they awarded her a standing ovation .

But in fact, when she first got out of the army, Sidikman did not have an easy time. The Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Tel Aviv and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City turned down her admissions applications. “They just turned me away and said this is not for you,” she remembers. “And it kind of crushed me…I didn’t know what to do with myself.” But Sidikman persisted.

Now, she is headed to London where she will attend the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, an experience she hopes will inspire her designs even more. (“Really to be truly free to be as creative as you want, you can only do that as a student,” she says.) And most importantly, she’ll keep having adventures that shape her work and who she is today. After all, she says, “If someone’s coming to read your article, or look at my collection, or see someone’s painting, they are judging you. Because the work comes from you. When it’s artistic, it’s so personal.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.