In Lihi & Mira Zwillinger’s presence you lose all sense of reason. You’re swept up in their magic, their madness. These charismatic Israeli designers draw you magnetically into their world and their art. They make you forget what purpose you were there for in the first place. And that was exactly the way our pre NY bridal week interview unfolded.
The moment we stepped into their Manhattan apartment, we became part of their production and little family, all madly working away at a show that was less than 48 hours away. The formality of an interview seemed completely out of place and we were instead given an intimate walk through of the collection by designers so uninhibitedly and infectiously bursting with excitement. We became part of the production for a moment, in the midst of castings & fittings, we watched Lihi put final touches on hemlines, together we threw silhouette and fabric descriptions around for their press releases, helped solve a few last minute dramas with 300 gift bags stuck in customs. We were so immersed in the creative chaos that plans for an interview turned into an informal, unguarded conversation in between preparations that cut out the boring small talk and the PR fluff. Lihi and Mira don’t do things the way you’re supposed to. It makes no sense to them. They delve right into what matters. They are as real and raw as you get, and we fell in love with their authenticity, their complete comfort with vulnerability. They’re two of the warmest, most inspiring women we’ve ever met, making absolute waves in the industry with the magic they expel.
Like all great artists, Lihi possesses a little bit of crazy. In the best possible way. And she’s the first to admit it, saying it over and over while she walks us through the collection. She’s a mad artist at work, bubbling over with creativity. As we walk into a room that almost envelops us in delicate, pale tinted gowns, (surely one of the biggest collections we’ve ever seen) Lihi admits she has a problem - a complete creative obsession swearing they were only going to design 28-30 dresses. Just a day before coming to NYC she designed another dress, which arrived two days before the show. Just last night, she had to talk herself out of working on yet another gown.
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Lihi is a perfectionist that refuses to settle for anything less than magic. No matter how many hours were poured into every meticulous detail of a gown, Lihi tells us there were frustrating moments in creating this collection when the end product did not even closely resemble her vision. And so it came undone. Stitch by stitch, embroidered flower unpicked, layers unravelled, compositions undone, and they’d start again. Close family and friends (who can get away with it!) threw around words to describe Lihi as stubborn, difficult, wondering why she’s so fussy when the gown looks nice - but that’s a word Lihi will never settle for. Instead it’s all the confirmation she needs to start again, because 'nice' doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of the standards she sets for herself. She worked tirelessly early mornings, spent late nights sitting on the floor hand embroidering every piece of appliqué, determined to execute the vision she dreamt so vividly . “I hate it when someone is telling me something is beautiful when i know it’s ugly!” Lihi exclaims.
Lihi’s mother and business partner Mira is much the same. She’s an artist willing to take creative risks but adamant that each piece needs to feels luxurious and chic. We ask if Mira ever tries to reign Lihi’s wild ideas in a little, and she looks at us confused by the need to. She admits there’s been times Lihi’s created something in secret just incase she wasn’t on the same page, but she’s Lihi’s biggest fan. They feed off each other’s wild imaginations. Their mother daughter partnership just works.
Dressed immaculately in luxurious tailored suits, Mira has a beauty, a classicism and charisma that commands your presence. She reminds us a little of the Karl Lagerfeld of the bridal world. The two of them together are a powerful force in bridal, bursting onto the scene with their first collection, Stardust - a collection that raised the bar in bridal and made every editor in the room sit up and take notice.
Lihi explains the idea for the Spring 2018 collection came long before last season’s show. A spark that couldn’t be extinguished, Lihi and Mira spent months searching for the perfect fabrics to bring to life an ethereal collection that resembled her surreal dream. Each piece evoked delicate formations of clouds in featherweight tulle, wispy feathers and illusion details. While last year’s collection spilled with decadent, embellishment and heavier fabrics, Spring 2018 blended their signature drama with an impossible lightness. There was a delicacy that underpinned every detail, voluminous skirts that shocked models with the weightlessness, sheer fabrics that floated over bodices and formed billowing sleeves. Sculptural 3D appliqué and embroidery that grew organically from each silhouette. Ethereal fabrics that moved like wind.
But all aesthetics aside, the real magic of Mira Zwillinger’s collections lies in their construction. The Zwillinger girls explain that every seamstress and artisan that works for them at their Israeli studio re-learns everything they’ve been taught. There’s an art to the way they weave pieces together, the way each piece contours a woman’s body. The movement of their fabrics is mezmerising. It’s a secret they don’t reveal and one we learn other designers have tried hard to deconstruct and imitate. But it’s an art form that can’t be duplicated. It’s art, after all.
See the full collection on the Mira Zwillinger website.