Zohar Edelshtein Budde is a scientist. She never formally trained as an artist or jewellery designer. Yet here she is exhibiting as the first Jewish designer at the Fabrics of Multicultural Australia (FOMA) fashion show.
“I look up to Israelis. They’re so innovative, skilful and creative,” said Zohar. “The art is part of my personal spiritual journey. So, to come to the point that I’m actually representing Israel in such an important event is a huge undertaking and it’s a huge honour.”
Eight designers have been selected to exhibit and showcase their designs on the catwalk, showing the true diversity of Australia. This is something that is even more significant for Zohar.
“This year, we also have Jordan in FOMA and a designer from Lebanon,” she said.
It’s a platform where Israel, Jordan and Lebanon can be together. It’s very special.
FOMA was established in 2018 by entrepreneur Sonia Sadiq Gandhi to promote emerging artists and designers from diverse cultures.
“The brief is to provide a collection with a sustainable angle, that is ecommerce ready and which speaks to the designer’s journey and their culture,” Gandhi explained.
FOMA also encourages bi-lateral trade between the participating nations, especially as it’s backed by DFAT, and provides an opportunity to connect international brands who are looking to invest in the Australian market.
The collection Zohar presenting, called Tribal Peace, is unique and very meaningful.
“The first look is inspired by the breastplate that were worn by the High Priests in the Temple, which was adorned with 12 precious stones representing the 12 Tribes,” she explained.
“Instead of 12 stones, I went for body, soul and spirit, by using stones, pearls and Judaica elements that I designed.
“We know that the 12 Tribes were like a big family. They had their own problems, their differences, their own issues. But they were able to overcome it and be one nation. I think that’s the strongest message of this collection, which is about coming together in peace.”
Zohar’s connection to creativity came about following the birth of her son, and she credits it for putting her on the path to recovery from post-natal depression.
“It’s all about art for me. The way that I created this collection, I just let myself go. I didn’t create jewellery that I think will sell, I created jewellery from my heart.”
Zohar has overcome her share of personal tragedy and she’s hoping this collection shows that while we cannot change other people, we can each take responsibility for ourselves and our own actions. “The more we understand that we have different needs and it’s absolutely OK to be different, we can find a way to coexist,” she said. “Through art, people can relate and really connect.”
As FOMA is happening during Chanukah, the Israeli stall will feature doughnuts and Israeli snacks.
FOMA is at the Australian National Maritime Museum on December 2. For more: fomaustralia.com.au