Maayan Hazay, as of November 2013, is just one of the talents to make up Designers in the City (מעצבים בעיר), an eclectic co-op funded by the local municipality to promote the success of young, up and coming Israeli designers by providing them with their own affordable studios to make their dreams come to life. If this isn’t one of Jerusalem’s most remarkable ideas, then I am not sure what else is? For me, Maayan is a sign that with hard work, determination, and a great eye, accomplishing your dreams is more than just a possibility but also a reality. So lets take a deeper look at who she is, how she got here, and what makes her an inspiration.
When did you first begin to design your own clothes, how did you get into fashion, what was your inspiration?
“I have always had an inner calling for fashion design and a fascination with taking what I know and who I am and turning into something beautiful” Maayan explains. “ As a child, my grandmother was constantly sewing and knitting us sweaters, so I was able to pick up some of the basic craft from her, but I really didn’t learn to sew until about 2 or 3 years ago.”
In high school, Hazay started sketching looks and experimenting with her own personal style by “making the little details really count and pop,” a mantra which she still abides closely to today. She then went on to study design and pattern making at Miriam College in Tel Aviv. “Now, I do all the sewing and patternmaking myself, from start to finish here in the studio.”
Where do you find inspiration?
“I live my life and the inspiration just happens, you just have to look. When I am out on a run in the morning, I am snapping pics of the most little insignificant things but there is beauty in everything- you just have to look.” Speaking of looking, Hazay also happens to be a big fan of finding inspiration though people watching.
Describe your personal style and do you think your upbringing influenced it in any way?
“I was born in Jerusalem, but my father was from Moshav Eshtol near Beit Shemesh and my Mother lived in Lot while I was in 2nd to 6th grade, it was a really fun place to live at that age.” After moving to Rishon Litzion before her army service, the family returned to a Moshav and then eventually to Jerusalem. “Jerusalem and the Moshav lifestyle, are home to me,” Hazay explains, “there is such a strong sense of community and I love the vibes.”
“I moved a lot and got something from each place I lived in. It has impacted my style- I am an urban yet small town mix. If I had lived only in Jerusalem, I would be a very different designer. I like my clothes to be practical and have the ability to go from a fast paced, urban environment to a small town get together.” Here in Jerusalem, Hazay finds herself mixing with people from all different groups which means a multitude of inspiration from every direction. “My life has been such a mix of experiences. This has expanded my view and ability to design.”
When it comes down to personal style, she gravitates towards her love of dresses and skirts. “You will often see me in a maxi dress,” weather accordingly of course, or a loosely fitted garment that she almost always prefers to be belted at the waist to perfectly cut her curves. “Everyday I wake up with a different mood for clothes, you may think that I have a different style each day, but everything has a guiding line that ties it all together – not too tight, not too stiff, easygoing, like me. The way I dress is my personality.”
After hearing people say “you design you, your own style,” she admits what every buyer would ideally like to hear- “I wouldn’t design something that I wouldn’t wear. I want to design something that is practicable and wearable and appeals to the everyday woman. I want my designs to make her feel good and still show who I am.”
So, how did you become a part of Designers in the City and what exactly is it?
Initially, “I was selling my designs at the Old Train Station’s Artist Market, here in Jerusalem.” That was until, she went through the formal application process for Designers in the City which Hazay describes as “a formal interview and photoshoot, where I had to show my entire portfolio.”
“Designers in the City is an opportunity for young designers to have their own studios. The point is that we make everything here from beginning to end, and you can see the progress of all our designs and different inspirations through our basic sketches to the different textiles we combine with the sewing machine.”
Do the Designers in the City work as a collaborative unit?
“Yes, that’s what I really love, we have a co-op with just about everything. You have a great group of designers that work individually but also together. The bottom line is that we all want to succeed- we have each other as support not competition, its very inspirational.”
So does this mean that the Designers in the City may a collaborative project in the making?
As of now, there are some thoughts about combining their array of skills and mediums. However as Hazay tells, “nothing has come together yet… but we shall see. It is a great opportunity to work with designers in different areas – like combining the jewelers with the bag makers to make one piece.” Sounds like a great idea to me!
How long does it take you to make an average garment, a dress for example? What makes it wearable in your eyes?
“Some things” she states, “I can finish in a day, others take a month or more.” To Hazay, its all about the process. “I don’t want to make something that is average. If something is on your mind but it doesn’t fit when you dress it, then you have to start over. You really have no idea where a design will take you, you have to go with your intuition and let it unfold.”
So underneath all the hardwork garment production entails, what does you (Hazay) consider to be a wearable end result?
“To me wearable means you feel comfortable, sexy, safe, and strong. You don’t want to be constantly adjusting or fixing your outfit or be uncomfortable with yourself. “When you get dressed,” she explains, “an important transformation occurs.” For her this lies within every unique design and detail having the ability to provoke a new mood. “I want to embody that (change), it’s always flattering because that’s when the inner soul can dress the outer appearance.”
What are you working on right now and if you don’t mind, tell me a little about your favorite piece?
Enthused for her upcoming collection, she exclaims “nice prints and colors- I always uses colors that are alive. The patterns are very floral, geometric, and the figures embrace the female body and curves.” Hazay will be featuring new pieces for the Summer and Holidays of 2014 that will feel very 60’s meet the modern powerhouse lady; divas watch your step. And for the grand finale there is one secret that she couldn’t resist sharing with the utmost devious of smiles, “there will be pant suits.” So about that favorite piece… Hazay is crushing on “a princess pattern that mixes 2 different fabrics together; It’s a little bit tight/sexy but flattering.”
Okay so, your homebase is Jerusalem. Can that be a struggle at times?
With an honest yet confident smile, she nods “Yes, its not easy but I think that this is universal and every designer needs to work for their own right, fame, and to succeed in what they see as beautiful. Hopefully we will make a name for ourselves.” After twisting a curly lock around her finger, she goes on to mention that “It (Jerusalem) changed the way I design because Tel-Aviv is the center (for fashion) and Jerusalem has potential to become a style center. There are a lot of women (in Jerusalem) who want to revamp their look and who are interested in fashion and especially fashion art. Its grown in past years”
Despite it all, have you considered relocating to Tel-Aviv?
While the thought of going coastal has come to mind, she admits “I love the uniqueness of Jerusalem, it’s very art focused. The city has an open mind to experimenting and trying new things. That’s why I am staying- because I think it (Jerusalem) has the potential to become something than it is.”
Where do you see yourself in the future, what do you hope your business and brand will become?
“I have dreams,” she gushes, “for as far as I can go.” And at the young age of 26, limits are nothing but a foreign thought. “I am going to push myself with what I love, and one step at a time start to dress women around the globe.”
With high hopes to eventually open her own studio and store, she has realized how “hard it is without investments on the side.” But its easy to see thats not something to have the young designer feeling blue while she passionately replies, “I am always showing my designs here (Designers in the City) and I’m working on an online shop… I’m always here.” Still, Hazay doesn’t let her studio confine her drive for success. In addition to updating a facebook page, she opens up shop during summer months at the First Train Station’s Friday morning artists market. But its no stranger, that at the end of the day, she prefers a more “shop style attitude.”
As far as future expansions go, Hazay “would love to expand and have a team to work with.” However she explains that regardless of expansion, “I always want to have contact with my clients. I want my style and designs to be personal- I would never take that out of the equation.”
Any advice for young designers?
“Just be yourself and be true to your instinct. Stick to your own style. Maybe you won’t like the first few designs, but you will be consistent because your ideas and points of view will show through and develop into something magical.”
Studio Address: מעצבת אופנה | Bezalel 7, Jerusalem
Hours: Mon – Thu: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Fri: 9:00 am – 2:30 am
Model: Maayan Hazay
Photographer: Moranne Mintz