Tal Maslavi and Guy Nechmad Stern are two Israeli artists who have found a way to syncopate their creative minds and work together to bring us a unique vision of a 21st-century fashion whose main characteristics are teenage melancholy, friendship, and an out-of-the-box type of masculinity.
I hope you can cherish this opportunity to enjoy this interview with this creative duo who, in the same ways that you share with your most intimate friends, wanted to talk to us so openly about their lives, work, and new projects. So, feel comfortable and keep reading to join this conversation with Tal Maslavi and Guy Nechmad Stern, two of the most amazing artists nowadays.
Tal Maslavi and Guy Nechmad Stern | Exclusive Interview
JVxVT: What can you tell us about yourselves? What do you say when someone asks what do you do for a living?
Tal: My name is Tal Maslavi; I am 24 years old from Tel Aviv. I am a third-year fashion student at Shenkar College.
Guy: I’m Guy; I’m an artist and photographer, I’m also 24 and I live in Jerusalem. And, I tell people I’m an artist.
JVxVT: As you have been working in a competitive world like fashion, and you both have been specializing in fields that need one another, how is it like to find a partner you can state that has been “building a common language” with you? Which language do you mean?
Tal: Guy and I met on Instagram. I was looking for a photographer for my first collection, which I did back in 2016, the connection was instant. Then, we continued working together; I think we both have similar views on masculinity, culture, and nostalgia. That’s why we hardly talk when we work; we trust each other so much.
Guy: First of all, I don’t think fashion and photography need one another; I think they go hand in hand in perfect harmony. As an artist and photographer, I like to “use” real people like my materials, and it happens to be that everyone wears clothes, so fashion is everywhere and I just like to capture it because I like real honest people.
JVxVT: Could you tell us more about some of your most prominent collaborations, like Forever Twins 2020, and SKIN N’ STONE?
Guy: Tal always invites me into his personal world, and he trusts my point of view as a photographer. I like his new set of eyes, looking and capturing the projects. because I’m his photographer we literally grew up together creatively and our language was created in the space between his clothes and my camera, fantasizing about the male body, or ideas of masculinity and femininity, or imagining a different time or place, going back in time for a new future.
Tal: SKIN N’ STONE was our second project; we did the project after I finished my first year at Shenkar College. I made new items that were inspired by artists who sculpted in marble. In the project, we photographed Omer and Yannay who are best friends in an old Jerusalem stone tomb. Guy and I realized that working with models who know each other gives extra value to photos, the value of friendship.
Forever Twins was inspired by my own twin sister Shai. The project dealt with the story of twins, how I and my twin grew up, the son who should be the boy, and the daughter who should be the girl.
JVxVT: What does Israel mean to you, and how is it reflected in your work?
Tal: I often think about whether my design is inspired by where I am or where I want to be. Israel will always be in my heart, and I can see how it may affect my work, but I’m more inspired by universal ideas.
Guy: Israel is weird, I don’t think I’m not the one to talk about what’s going on here because it’s not really my story, but there are many immoral and corrupt thing going on in this country, not just in the government, I’m hopeful but I know it’s going to take a lot of time before anything will change for the best here.
JVxVT: The previous question leads me to this one: what are your thoughts about media representation?
Guy: I think it’s a tricky thing, representation. Because you never want to offend anyone, you need to do it, and everything you create, do it in the most honest way possible. We all want to see ourselves represented in anything, and that also makes me wonder, why can’t we relate with someone who isn’t like us? We have all seen how feminism or any identity representation has been used as a gimmick or a way to make money, and as a white male, I would never want to appropriate anyone’s story. I have to be more honest with myself and create from my purest place, and that is a good thing regardless.
Tal: I didn’t grow up in a cultural center like Tel Aviv. I was only exposed to designers and artists when I was older, but I always had the craving to be a part of the big world. I did not always feel accepted in society, and I had to make an effort to be recognized. Today on social media I feel more connected on a global scale and more compatible with my position.
JVxVT: How about body positivity?
Tal: As a gay man, body image has always been a big part of my life. I always wanted to be muscular, and I asked myself if society made me feel like that, or it was my actual desire. Today, I accept myself the way I am and I think body positivity is important.
Guy: I never had the ‘hot’ body, as a kid, I was so skinny and now I’m a thick boy; and as Tal said, gay men are dealing with a lot of body issues, I think that’s because men can be horrible no matter their sexual preference.
JVxVT: How has the pandemic impacted your work?
Guy: When we couldn’t do anything, I was still consuming a lot of art and movies and books, and now I’m at the most exciting phase of my life where I start to do what I love every day.
Tal: The pandemic affected my college studies. I sew more at home and the lessons are online. The pandemic has raised a lot of questions about the profession of fashion designers now that the fashion industry has changed. The pandemic undermined the confidence of the fashion world.
JVxVT: What can you share about your newest project, the RTW collection campaign?
Tal: I started this project wanting to go back to my childhood; I like to ask questions about growing up in light of teenage rebellion. One of the pieces in the collection is an object, and actually, it’s a children’s game that I had when I was young, and now you can wear it as a garment. I also made sticker t-shirts that you can peel and stick right on the body. And when I created the pop-up store, I wanted it to be a broken playground that you return to as a teenager and you are not a kid anymore, but the memories are there.
Guy: Because the collection is all about teenage melancholy, we knew we wanted an old place but with a new potential, and Omri Harmelins studio in Jaffa was just that, this old ruined Scottish house with new imaginative artworks all around. And the models were friends of mine, Lior, I know him since he was 13, and he is like my family, and Gil I just met him in the street and we clicked right away.
JVxVT: Which advice would you give to those teenagers who might be struggling with self-expression and would like to use arts, fashion, or photography as a way of speaking out or expressiveness?
Guy: My advice is to create, nonstop, no holding back, no questions, without fear, fill your heart with love and create as much as you can.
Tal: The advice I would give to teens struggling with self-expression is to be interested in a lot of things and inspiration would come from things you never imagined or from places you won’t really like at first; you just have to open your mind.
JVxVT: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
Tal and Guy: WE LOVE YOU VANITY TEEN!!!!!!!!!
Before we go
What a great blessing is living in an interconnected world where geographical boundaries are left behind due to the gift of technology. What I mean is this era allows us to get closer to artists all over the globe and appreciate how we can evolve our appreciation of fashion and arts.
Thanks to Tal Maslavi and Guy Nechmad Stern for sharing with us. Thus, let us remember their message: love will lead our creativity, and people will notice it.