Maskit: Israel’s First Fashion House

The Maskit showroom and studio – Israel’s first world famous fashion house, has sat dormant since the 90′s and was only revived last year. The new head designer is Sharon Tal.

 Michell, Sonya, and Daina in the iconic ‘Desert coat’

Michell, Sonya, and Daina in the iconic ‘Desert coat’

Here are some exclusive behind the scenes shots in the studio, the beautiful garments and all the intricate details.
Maskit was founded by Ruth Dayan (who is 97 and leads a very busy life – driving all over Israel and has appointments all day long.) in 1954 as a luxury women’s ready-to-wear and decorative arts house. It came out of an ideology to provide work opportunities for new immigrants, whom Ruth had been tasked by the government to train in agricultural business. Upon visiting these immigrant villages she discovered that there was no sense in teaching them agriculture when so many of them were such skilled artisans in embroidery, rugs, and arts & crafts. And so the idea to start Maskit crystallized. Ruth also sought out artisans from other indigenous communities (BedouinDruzePalestinianLebaneseSyrian). Fini Leitersdorf was appointed head designer, and together they made Maskit a global phenomenon within 2 short years!

Original sketches from Maskit archives (50′s-70′s) in the upstairs work studio.
Original sketches from Maskit archives (50′s-70′s) in the upstairs work studio.


The Glory Days:

Maskit proposed an innovative concept at the time: to take modern European patterns and styles and infuse them with original ethnic embroidery which no one had seen before, this combination proved to be very desirable. Top designers and fashion houses from around the world collaborated with Maskit, including: Christian DiorYves Saint LaurentPauline Trigere, and Givenchy. Maskit was sold internationally in high-end department stores (Saks Fifth AvenueBergdorfs and Neiman Marcus to name a few) and its clothes were worn by celebrities and heads of state around the word. Maskit opened a lifestyle concept store in ‘58, with a coffee shop inside, first floor had textiles, second floor clothes and jewelry, other areas had furniture, rugs and other interior design items.


The ‘Temporary’ End:

In ‘94 it all came to a screeching halt when Maskit closed due to the failed guidance of new ownership. Fortunately for all, Sharon Tal, an incredibly talented designer, appeared in Ruth’s life two years ago, and after much research and consideration Ruth and Sharon are reviving the brand to its former glory. It was and is the only real Israeli “Fashion House”.


About Sharon Tal:

Sharon graduated with honors from Shenkar School of Design in 2008, went on to work in Paris at Lanvin, and then become the head of embroidery at Alexander McQueen in London. Sharon left Alexander McQueen to move back to Israel, and have her first child. It was when she was at home with her baby that she saw Kate Middleton walk down the aisle of Westminster Abbey in a McQueen wedding dress (that she would have taken part in making), that the urge to get back to what she does best tugged at her heartstrings. Since Israel has no fashion house of that caliber, she was disheartened until she saw an article on Maskit (the first and only fashion house of Israel) in the paper and made an appointment to meet Ruth, having no idea of what lie ahead.


VOGUE did a massive article about Maskit in ‘69, as did Cosmopolitan. Almost all the magazines talked about Maskit.


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