Wife of Zone of Interest producer wears Israel-inspired ‘solidarity’ dress to Baftas

Author and economist Noreena Hertz collaborated with the Israeli designer Shai Shalom to create the gown


Noreena Hertz on the red carpet at the 2024 BAFTAs wearing an Israeli designer's dress

Author and economist Noreena Hertz wore a white-and-blue Israeli-designed gown “in solidarity” to the BAFTAs on Sunday, as she joined her executive producer husband Danny Cohen whose film The Zone of Interest picked up three awards.

London-based Hertz collaborated with the Israeli designer Shai Shalom to create the dress, and says she recieved compliments from actors including Cate Blanchett, Bryce Dallas Howard and Samantha Morton at the event at the Royal Festival Hall.

Since The Zone of Interest had already garnered considerable acclaim, including five Oscar nominations and top reviews across the board, and was up for nine gongs at the BAFTAs, Hertz saw the ceremony as “an opportunity to make a statement”. 

“In this time of rising antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments, I felt very strongly that I wanted to wear an Israeli designer on the red carpet,” she told the JC. “It felt very important to be publicly showing my solidarity with Israel and using my platform. To make clear: we are not being cowed and I'm publicly there for you.”

Given the film’s chilling topic of the Holocaust, Herz felt that making a conscious statement at the event at the Royal Festival Hall would be “especially important”.

“It’s about man's indifference, or even worse, man's ability to hate and dehumanise a group of people – Jews – with such venom.

"It felt especially important given the daily heartbreaking stories, whether it's the Jewish chaplain at Leeds who's had to go into hiding, or the parents who tell me that that their kid had a swastika scored onto their desk, and the anti-Israel sentiment at a time that the country has experienced a pogrom the like of which it hasn't experienced since the Holocaust.”

Herz had also learnt about the Israeli fashion designer Dodo Bar Or being dropped by major platforms Net-a-Porter and MyTheresa following a social media post in which she compared Hamas terrorists to Isis terrorists, and wanted to actively showcase talent from the country. Herz reached out to Shalom, whose work – which includes redesigning the Israeli airline El Al uniforms – she “much admired”.

“Reading about the rise of the BDS movement at this moment and people calling for active boycotts of Israeli products, I wanted to make the opposite statement that I want to be proudly wearing Israeli design.

“When people are consciously boycotting products or being encouraged to, we should within the Jewish community think about how we can actively support Israeli products and designers. I felt proud to tell people the dress was by the Israeli designer Shai Shalom.”

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