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September 8, 2015 6:55 am

A Toulouse Fashion Student Finds Style and Harmony in the Holy Land

avatar by Anav Silverman / Tazpit News Agency

Meissene Maghni, a Toulouse fashion student who participated in Project Muza in Israel. Photo: Facebook.

Meissene Maghni, a Toulouse fashion student who participated in Project Muza in Israel. Photo: Facebook.

A unique group of young fashion bloggers and designers recently visited Israel to learn more about the country’s fashion industry and diverse culture. Hailing from the Philippines, Korea, Kenya, Japan, Brazil, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.K., the 10 participants toured the country and met with top Israeli fashion designers throughout last week.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Meissene Maghni from Toulouse, France — one of the participants of the program. “I’m Muslim and I really wanted to see Israel with my own eyes; to see the people; and, of course, meet with Israeli fashion designers,” Maghni told Tazpit.

The program, called Project Muza, was organized by a group of students from the Interdisciplinary Center of Herzliya (IDC), who are participating in a StandWithUs Israel fellowship.

Maghni, a student at the Toulouse International School of Fashion, was selected from hundreds of nominations.

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“I saw how people live together in Israel — Jews, Muslims, and Christians,” said Maghni, whose family is French of Algerian origin. “My family said that I have to go, that this is a fashion opportunity that I couldn’t miss. It was also interesting to meet the other young international designers on this program,” she told Tazpit.

When asked about the French media’s perception of Israel, Maghni replied that she barely watches the news. “The media say what they want.  I just don’t listen.”

“It was my first time in Israel, and I was proud to be here and discover this country and people,” said Maghni, who plans to be a wedding-dress designer in the future.

Boaz Gasto, the director of All With Us-Tous Avec Nous, a French organization that promotes and develops cultural relations between France, Europe and Israel, told Tazpit that the French media only spotlight conflict in Israel and nothing else.

“We felt it was important to have a French designer [be] part of Project Muza,” he told Tazpit. “There are many other sides to Israel that people remain ignorant of – like the technology, democracy, culture, and of course fashion. We want that image to change.”

Sagie Kerman, the manager of Project Muza in Israel, together with IDC students Alon Rottenberg, Gal Cohen and Keren Azaria and others, tirelessly worked on the program for half a year with assistance from StandWithUs.

“We wanted to share Israel’s dynamic fashion industry with the world. The fashion bloggers and designers who participated in our program had never visited Israel before, and really didn’t know much about the country.”

The Muza participants had the opportunity to meet with Israeli fashion start-ups and entrepreneurs, and speak with secular and Orthodox fashion designers, as well as tour the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from August 30 to September 3.

“They got to exchange business cards with top Israeli fashion designers,” said Kerman. “The participants will become Israel’s ambassadors in the fashion world and in their respective countries,” Kerman told Tazpit.

For Maghni, Israel proved to be far different from what she had imagined. “It’s a really pretty country. I especially loved Tel Aviv and the sea. People have to come here to see the whole picture,” she said.

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