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Lady of the Daisies: A Tribute to Lea Gottlieb

Start Date 19 March 2013
End Date 11 May 2013
Venue Design Museum Holon
Location Israel

The exhibition focuses on the work of fashion designer Lea Gottlieb (1918-2012), who initiated a leading and innovative area of fashion in Israel’s textile industry, and gained international renown as a leader in her field. The work on the exhibition began more than six months ago with the process of sorting and selecting exhibits from the thousands of items in Mrs. Gottlieb’s archives. In addition to work meetings in her home, Mrs. Gottlieb had the opportunity of visiting the Museum and taking part in weaving the dream of an exhibition in her honor before she passed away.

"I Like Making Something Out of Nothing" Lea Gottlieb, 1964

Leah (Lenke) Roth was born in 1918 in a small village in Hungary, the only child of a poor Jewish family; she was raised by her aunt. In 1939, the Numerous clausus Laws limiting the number of Jewish students at universities prevented her from studying. In those years she married Armin Gottlieb and gave birth to two daughters, Miriam and Judith. Once the German army entered the country, Armin was shipped to a labor camp, and Lea and her two young daughters relocated from village to village until the war was over.

In 1949, the family came to Israel and Lea and Armin began producing aprons and rain coats out of local materials. But in 1956 there was almost no rain at all in sun-drenched Israel, and the couple decided to shift gears and produce something new: fashionable bathing suits and beachwear.

In the years to come, Lea Gottlieb’s diligence, ingenuity and prolific imagination turned the tiny enterprise into the internationally successful Gottex, whose products are sold in 75 nations across the world.

In 1972, Gottlieb won first prize in the International Fashion Show in Cannes, and soon became a key figure in the international beachwear fashion scene. The world’s best photographers photographed the bathing suits and beach clothes she designed and international super models wore her creations, which now adorned the front covers of leading fashion magazines.

In 1995, her husband Armin passed away; a few years later in 1999 her daughter Judith, who had run the company with her, passed on as well. Lea Gottlieb continued designing a new collection every year up to 2002, at which point she resigned from Gottex and created a new company under her own name, where she continued to work and design until the age of 90.

In 2012, at the age of 94, Lea Gottlieb passed away in her home in Tel Aviv.