Top-notch kip­pot

Hats off to the con­tem­po­rary kip­pah. He­len Hill gives us a heads-up on yarmulke trends

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Contents -

SHABBAT MORN­ING in a Lon­don syn­a­gogue and the bar­mitz­vah’s un­cle steps up to the bimah in his Gucci shoes; a tal­lit draped over his Ar­mani suit. But alas, sar­to­rial el­e­gance ends at his ears — the white Tery­lene kip­pah perched on his head screams con­fu­sion be­tween tra­di­tion and taste (rather like a wine con­nois­seur who thinks Pal­win No 10 is the only seder li­ba­tion).

Jewish men have al­ways worn head­cov­er­ings as a sign of re­spect for the Almighty, es­pe­cially in syn­a­gogue and when pray­ing. But even though the skull­cap is the most recog­nis­able Jewish sym­bol, it’s not con­sid­ered sa­cred, con­strained by any de­sign rules or nowa­days, lim­ited to men. In Is­rael, the type and style of kip­pah of­ten makes a re­li­gious or po­lit­i­cal state­ment. In the UK, Prince Charles wears a blue vel­vet kip­pah em­broi­dered with his royal crest to Jewish events.

Call them kip­pot, yarmulkes or cup­pels, but for­get the old cone-shaped satin skull­caps that sat on top of the head. “Peo­ple are hav­ing fun with the kip­pah,.” says Chaykah, of Mazel­tops, an Amer­i­can pur­veyor of kip­pot ex­ported around the world.

Dec­o­ra­tions in­clude sports lo­gos; car­toon char­ac­ters or pi­rates, play­ing cards and happy faces. The choice fea­tures suede and leather in more than 30 colours, in­clud­ing turquoise, pur­ple, laven­der, aubergine, fuch­sia, bur­gundy and teal, plus em­bossed foil. Fab­rics in­clude bright satin; moiré, vel­vet, bro­cade, denim and tie-dyed cot­ton.

Bri­tish taste is more sub­tle, says Noa Lach­man of Rim­mon Ju­daica in East Sus­sex. “Many peo­ple or­der white or blue satin kip­pot, mainly white with sil­ver or white with gold print­ing in­side. But we have had or­ders for strong pink and red.” Off-white suede is also pop­u­lar.

In Amer­ica, grooms are of­ten seen in a knit­ted gold and white kip­pah adorned with sil­ver flow­ers, while bri­dal cou­ples of­ten de­sign them for guests to match their colour scheme — and the groom’s tie. Chayka of Mazel­tops re­ports that “one groom had me paint a cus­tom logo of his friends’ favourite sports team on the kip­pot — oth­ers ask us to em­broi­der the grooms­men’s names on them.” For bar and bat­mitz­vahs, the trend is for kip­pot to match the theme. “I just got off the phone with some­one who is tak­ing our ‘Peace Love and Hap­pi­ness’ kip­pah and mak­ing it ‘Peace Love Soc­cer’. Some­one else did ‘Peace, Love, Mu­sic’.”

To top off its vast col­lec­tion, the Mazel Skull Cap Com­pany in New York comes straight to the point — a kip­pah bear­ing a photo of the bar­mitz­vah boy.

From top: clas­sic vel­vet in shul colours; self-pat­tern black suede; con­tem­po­rary em­broi­dery and mo­saic-in­spired patterning; rosy satin. From a se­lec­tion at Rim­mon

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