Miriam and Steve Ruzow invited friends and family Monday night to a screening of “Mrs. G.” the Israeli documentary about the life and work of Miriam’s mother, Lea Gottlieb, founder of Gottex.
Held at the Walter Reade Theater in New York, friends such as Michael Gould, Patti Cohen, Laura and John Pomerantz, Mara Urshel, Lewis Koppelman, David Burnett and Teri Agins were among those who viewed the movie about the Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who created the highly successful Gottex line, but had a very difficult relationship with her two daughters, Miriam and Judith. Miriam Ruzow moved to New York as a young woman to break away from her controlling family and established the Gottex business in the U.S.
The film, which premiered in Tel Aviv last May, has been making the rounds of Jewish film festivals in such cities as Boston; Boca Raton, Fla.; Chicago; St. Petersburg, Russia; Denver, and Portland, Maine, and will be showcased at the Jewish Film Festival in Paris in March.
In a question-and-answer period following the movie, Dalit Kimor, the film’s director, said, “In order for the movie to work, it has to work emotionally.” She said originally she didn’t know if Ruzow would be as forthcoming as she was.
“I just opened up, and it was good for me,” said Ruzow, who talks about her mother’s emotional detachment in the film. “I did it out of respect to her [Lea Gottlieb] and thought it was a story that had to be told.” She said she looked up to her mother’s talents and called her a survivor. Ultimately, she told the audience, she did forgive her. Her younger sister Judith, who stayed in Israel and worked for the family business, died of cancer in 2003 at the age of 59.
The documentary delves into Gottlieb’s art, designs, strong and demanding work ethic, and her use of beautiful colors, different fabrics and cuts. She was the first to use Lycra spandex in swimwear, and her suits were frequently inspired by her travels, flowers (her favorite was daisies), nature, the Egyptian desert, Broadway, Josephine Baker and the city of Jerusalem. The film also pointed out that Gottlieb was out of touch with the Israeli people and would often wear Dior and Chanel and would spend money lavishly. Ultimately, the business suffered financial troubles and was sold. Gottlieb later launched another brand, Lea, when she was in her late 80s, which had success. Gottlieb died in 2012 at the age of 94.