Clothes, suggested Virginia Woolf, “change our view of the world and the world’s view of us”.
It is a lesson that apparently passed over the head of Israel’s far-right culture minister, Miri Regev, at Cannes film festival when she chose to wear a dress printed with the Jerusalem skyline as an explicit political statement.
Regev was pictured on the red carpet in a full-skirted white A-line dress decorated with a bold print of the city’s walls rising from the hem.
Commissioned by Regev from the designer Aviad Arik Herman, the minister said: “This year we are celebrating 50 years since the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem.
“I am proud to celebrate this historic date through art and fashion, and I am happy that this work by Israeli designer Aviad Herman is so moving and honours the beautiful status of our eternal capital Jerusalem.”
However, while Israel claims sovereignty over all of the city, most of the international community, as well as Palestinians, regard the east of the city as under Israeli occupation.
Social media inevitably responded to Regev’s choice of attire, and many users supplied their own Photoshopped ideas of what should have been printed on her dress.
In one version, photojournalist David Rubinger’s image of three Israeli paratroopers celebrating the conquest of the Western Wall is superimposed.
In others, the Israeli separation wall snakes around her ankles, flames burn over the skyline, and one version features a bomb exploding in Gaza.
The leftwing Israeli newspaper Haaretz tweeted: “Miri Regev wanted to show some Jerusalem pride. Instead, she ignited a powder keg of laughs.”
Journalist Greg Carlstrom was also quick off the mark: " Regardless of your politics, I hope we can all agree: whatever Miri Regev paid for this dress, it was too much."
Twitter user Shira Makin was equally scathing. “Miri Regev’s dress is cool and all, but it’s lacking one little thing: the 370,000 Palestinians living in ‘united’ East Jerusalem, 41% of its population.”
Supporters of the Israeli government, however, were more enthusiastic, with some describing it as the “dress of the year”.
The Jerusalem Post declared the dress was “clearly alluding to the Unesco decision that disavowed Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem on 2 May”.
Others interpreted the dress as a nod to next week’s anniversary of the six-day war, which saw the Israeli conquest of eastern Jerusalem as well as the West Bank.
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