That's How It Happened

Hi, my name is Yael. I'm ATA's designer and co-founder of its re-opening in 2016.


I've been working for many years now with director and visionary Shahar Segal, as a costume designer/ stylist, for movies and commercials. In 2011 Shahar went to an exhibition about ATA in Eretz Israel Museum, and wondered how come ATA is no longer a part of our life. Being the entrepreneur that he is, Shahar didn't miss a beat, and that's how it all began. When I heard of this, I couldn't imagine anyone else but me to partner with him in relaunching one of the most spectacular productive cultural endeavors since the 1930s.

And just like that, as of 2011 we cautiously started to debate how to turn something that once was into something that has a right and a place to remain. How do you break down an era and culture, that the clothes that ATA made were their reflection, to something that is both relevant and necessary today? The moment I realized (hopefully) what to do and why it was still valid in 2016, was when I understood I had to ask questions regarding the obvious- how do I live? Where? Where do I work? What is a "worker"? what are "work clothes"? and what are "clothes for work"?

 

I researched on-the-go

I created a sort of archival clothes collection of ATA clothes from periods of time I was interested in and learnt a lot from the work of Dr. Dalya Bar-Or. Maybe because I wasn't twenty years old, I was fifty, and not a designer by education, for me, clothes are connected to people and their life, and I simultaneously examined what the ATA archive had to offer as well as what it was missing. The words that were used in ATA also guided my steps- at least in its first twenty years, ATA employed "clothes planners" and the words "design" and "brand" weren't a part of its dictionary. This directed me when I was adding or letting go of a detail in a piece of clothing- planning a garment is related to a need, and that need has a face and feelings- that of its wearer.
I heard quite a few men and women who tried on ATA's clothes that they gelt "safe" while wearing them and wondered what it meant and how to translate it. I learnt that besides taste- all senses participate in choosing a piece of clothing. When I'm asked what it is like to "bring something back to life" – I answer that ATA was never really gone.

 

I tried to preserve memories through small details

The shape of the pockets, how deep they are, clothes' hanging for hooks. I really wanted historic ATA to be present in today's ATA. I thought about how a big part of our life has to do with movement from one place to another, and I wanted the clothes to reflect this need of ours. I was wondering what changed, how there used to be "closets" and then "walk in closets" and then "storage solutions"? I hoped I would be able to make clothes that were the solution. I looked at pictures of how the beach in Tel-Aviv used to look like. People were dressed alike yet they maintained their identity and uniqueness. I wanted the sequence of once and now to reconnect.
I was fortunate to meet Yonatan Müller, the son of ATA's founder, Erich Müller, and his family. To visit their house in Naharia, to meet his wife, Rachel, and even take photographs of his grandchildren wearing ATA. It was extremely moving. It's been four years since we re-opened ATA, and everyday I feel like we've only just began.
Our ATA is a story of a place, of people, of time, of a mood, and of the love that is woven in between. I promise to keep on telling it in my upcoming letters.
Yours,
Yael