Thursday 13th August

| BY Paul Toner

New Beginnings: Hoor Al Qasimi Introduces Womenswear To The Qasimi Universe

Spring/summer 2021 was a season in a state of flux. Menswear brands across the globe scrambled to find innovative, digital ways to display their artistry to the world. Gone were catwalks and physical presentations, as designers opted to produce captivating films, beautiful lookbook imagery and crafty concoctions that put whole collections inside an A4-sized box. On top of this mass entering into the URL unknown, London-based label Qasimi was going through an even bigger change of its own.

Last July, the brand’s founder and creative director Khalid Al Qasimi was tragically found dead in his west London flat, at only 39-years-old. It was announced his twin sister, Hoor Al Qasimi, would take the helm of her late brother’s eponymous label. “It was very difficult at the beginning,” recalls the designer of her earliest days in the studio. “But with the continued dedication and hard work by the team at Qasimi and support of factories and suppliers, it really has made this a collective effort that I believe we are all proud of. “

Hoor Al Qasimi has worked in the arts for the past 18 years, and like her brother, has used her practice to convey both her cultural and political beliefs. “The merging [of fashion] with politics was very important to my brother who felt it was essential to voice our concerns and speak up for what we believe in,” she explains. “I think in every creative field it is important to take a stand and talk about the politics that surround us and affect our lives.”

The designer chose to dedicate her debut collection for the brand to the wandering explorer built into the DNA of the Qasimi man, stemming from its own founder’s lust for life. This season saw the introduction of a Qasimi womenswear line, too – dubbed a soulmate to the Qasimi man as opposed to a romantic connection. “It is a reflection of our relationship as twins,” she says. “Gendered relationships are very complex and we didn’t want to ascribe to traditional gender roles to the Qasimi man or woman, our clothes can also be shared.”

Honing in on the relationship between trade and textiles, Qasimi looked specifically at Al Sadu; a weaving tradition of geometric patterns pioneered by the nomadic Bedouin people. After attending an exhibition at the SOAS University of London which explored African textiles, the designer became infatuated with the cultural exchanges of the Islamic world and that of Northern and Western Africa, along the trans-Saharan trade routes. This specific type of jacquard weave created by the Bedouin people is usually reserved for carpets, mats and pillows. Yet Qasimi was able to transfer such to bomber jackets and relaxed trousers, as well as a series of panels and trimmings that perforated slouched hoodies.

Hues throughout remained mostly muted – dusty lilacs reminiscent of the desert sky and militery-esque khakis – accented with bolder greens and yellows; inspired by Persian plums and cumin. One recurring flash of colour comes on the back of both workshirts and hoodies. “We The People” is translated into Arabic, eyecatching due to the multi-coloured thread that hangs from the woven utterance. This happens to be the opening phrase to the Preamble to the US Constitution, used by Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward back in 2018 to create a giant subversive sculpture out of hundreds of shoelaces.

The designer teamed up with director Nicholás Santos to envision an accompanying film for the collection, debuted off-schedule during the digital London Fashion Week shows. As models move and sway in synchronised formations, rising Arab rapper Freek narrates the performance in both an English and Arabic tongue. The entire spectacle felt considered and calming amidst an often chaotic digital fashion space. A rather terrific start to a new chapter in the Qasimi story.

Images courtesy of Qasimi.

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