Fashion TV lands in the desert

FTV viewers may seen more Israeli models like Mali Levy on the U.S. fashion runways. When news began to leak out recently that Fashion Television (FTV) mogul Michel Adam (Lisowski) had decided to move offices from Paris to the southern …

FTV viewers may seen more Israeli models like Mali Levy on the U.S. fashion runways. When news began to leak out recently that Fashion Television (FTV) mogul Michel Adam (Lisowski) had decided to move offices from Paris to the southern Israeli city of Beersheva, everyone thought it was a joke.

While Paris exudes haute couture, Beersheva has a weekly camel trading market. The report, amazingly, turned out to be true. But those connected to Israel’s fashion industry – while excited by the information – are not exactly surprised by it. They know the high stature held by the Israeli fashion industry throughout the world. And now viewers of the FTV are about to be exposed to it too.

Adam, one of the most powerful names in the world of fashion, is relocating FTV’s technical offices to southern Israel. At a later stage, the station’s administrative activity will also be transferred here – either to Herzliya or Tel Aviv.

“Michel Adam is a proud Jew. I understand that he feels happy in Israel, and that he is hopeful for calmer times between Israelis and the Palestinians,” a FTV spokeswoman told ISRAEL21c. “He sees potential here. He believes in the people in Israel. I think this helped in his decision to move FTV offices here.”

FTV was started in 1997. Today the round-the-clock fashion-oriented channel is broadcast in 130 countries and has about 600 million viewers – of them 15 million viewers in North America. (US company, Viastar, in July of this year signed a contract with Adam’s Fashion TV for the exclusive worldwide rights to distribute FTV on big screen television billboards.)

“Fashion TV is popular all over the world, but it is extremely popular in Asia and the Middle East,” said a FTV spokeswoman. “The technology in Israel is advanced and so Adam chose Israel as the best place from which to broadcast to the rest of Asia.”

The FTV technical facility in Beersheva, which should start operating in early September, will broadcast the channel to Asia – where there are some 275 million viewers.

“The decision to move FTV to Israel is primarily for financial reasons,” Adam, CEO of the channel, was quoted as saying. “Until now, we’ve broadcast to Asia from Paris. I realized it would be much cheaper to broadcast the channel to Asia from Beersheva. Israel is the most important country in Asia.”

The last three years of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis has seen the local economy take a nosedive. Even if FTV is only in Israel for technical reasons, those associated with the channel believe it will still help boost the job market and the style beat.

“It’s important to note that the move is a strategic one,” Alon Miller, CEO of Talit Productions that is responsible for the channel in Israel, told Yediot Aharanot. “The concept of the programming will not be changing; it is successful as it is so there’s no need to change it. This is not going to be an Israeli
channel. It’s an international channel that will be broadcast from Israel. Still, I’m sure that the station being here will help raise the profile of fashion in Israel.”

Betty Rockaway, owner of Israel’s biggest model agency, Image, is pleased by the station’s decision to move to Israel.

“Today there’s no fashion industry in Israel just [clothing labels] Fox and Castro,” she
told ISRAEL21c. “There used to be a big fashion industry here including the bathing suit [lines] but they all went bankrupt – except for Gottex, which was bought out. I hope FTV’s being here will help stir up a new industry.”

Rockaway said she also believes FTV’s reach will extend to Israel’s landscapes, and perhaps indirectly help tourism. “Adam believes that the fashion photographers are fed up with the shooting locations in Arizona and Miami, and they would be happy to do their shoots in Israel. There are amazing locations here.”

Every year FTV broadcasts about 1000 different vogue shows. The channel, which has offices in the “fashion important” cities Paris, Milan, London and New York, also hosts modeling contests. Israeli models tend to do well in these competitions.

Earlier this month Image model Chen Shiloni took home first prize in a FTV contest in Monte Carlo. Shiloni, Rockaway said, will now join other Image models Keren Zehavi, Orli Bauman and Mali Levy on the US fashion runways.

“Because of [the model] Gisele, the US fashion industry really likes the Brazilian look. Here there’s no market for girls with this look. Israel is a country of sun and sea. But internationally people look at Shiloni and no one knows she’s Israeli. When she goes to New York they think, ‘Wow, another Brazilian,’” said Rockaway.

And when the Brazilian look goes out? Rockaway said that’s not a problem. Israeli models will still be able to fit the bill.

“The thing about Israel is you can get any look you want. The combinations here, the mixtures of the Ethiopians, the Russians, and others… there are unbelievable mixtures. Every generation is a beautiful generation. When people tell me to open an agency for children all you have to do is go to any kindergarten and for a whole ad campaign you can find the kids there. If the Belgium look is in, you can have those that look Belgian, or if the Irish look is in with those who have freckles, you can find that look also. All my models have a totally different look.”

With FTV’s presence in Israel, local models seem to be one step closer to the European and American catwalks. Said Rockaway: “Michel [Adam] will help new Israeli models and designers because he identifies with us. He loves Israel, he likes my models and he comes every weekend to meet them. If he likes the personality of a girl he’ll push her towards success.”

But first, Adam will help the not-so-glam looking technicians down south in Beersheva on the path to their and his prosperity.

About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.