For SS17, Qasimi uses elements of military wear, Middle Eastern dress and architecture to speak about socio-political situations and contemporary art.
Referencing the minimal military uniform styles that he grew up with in the UAE, Khalid Al Qasimi juxtaposes military elements with traditional Middle Eastern dress, creating garments that fuse elements of architecture with history. After studying at both Central St Martins and the Architectural Association, his exceptional attention to detail, emotional references and the precision of architectural design are trademark Qasimi elements.
Qasimi lives and works in a hybrid existence, using a blend of references to craft designs that are part Western and part Middle Eastern, expressing the realities of socio-political situations, contemporary art and minimal architecture. Based in a minimalistic atelier in central London, the brand focuses on high-quality garments and impressive craftsmanship. They pride themselves on their high-quality Italian fabrics, which includes double-faced crepes and wools, and European production, which helps beautifully represent the political stories that Qasimi tells. This season, Qasimi is focused on expressing the loss of innocence as a result of war and political turmoil through the contrasting of military uniforms and traditional Middle Eastern dress under his minimal aesthetic.
We caught up with Qasimi to talk oversized silhouettes, fresh colours, socio-political references and voicing opinions through the medium of design.
Tell us about this season’s aesthetic and what inspired it. How has it developed from last season’s minimalism?
This season is a continuation on the idea of minimal military but with an added notion of nostalgia. I looked back on my childhood and my discovery of the meaning of war and occupation during the Gulf War that started in August of 1990. The silhouettes are fluid, oversized and languid and colours are optimistic and fresh countering the ideas of war.
Textile choice has been central to previous collections – which fabrics are you working with this season?
This season I’m working with fluid and textured fabrics. Linen and Viscose mix fabrics with a crinkle finish, light double-faced crepes, light wool with a sable finish and textured seersucker in technical fabric alongside digital prints.
Is this collection as politically charged as ‘False Flags’?
I constantly attempt to weave political stories in my work, this is season is more about the loss of innocence as a consequence of war.
As a Middle Eastern Muslim designer in a field with great strides still to be made in terms of diversity, do you feel pressure to be a mouthpiece for your cultural background, and is this ever frustrating?
I feel that it is extremely important to discuss and debate about my cultural background and the political discourse that surrounds it. The media is generally very biased towards a certain agenda and it is key for me to voice my views through this medium.
Qasimi began as a womenswear brand before expanding into menswear. How do the two fields compare for you?
Do you feel that binary is arbitrary or relevant? With menswear I feel that it is important to design and be creative within certain parameters, there are rules to follow and it is interesting to slowly break them over time. Womenswear is less restrictive but can easily be over designed. I have learned to constantly strip back and edit over the course of the season.
You studied both at the Architectural Association and Central St Martins – how has your education both in architecture and fashion influenced your creative perspective?
For me, it’s all about the construction of the garment and highlighting it, everything has a purpose and function and I steer away from decoration.
Which non-fashion elements inspired this collection (music, cinema, art, pop culture)?
As in most of my collections I am inspired my socio-political issues, Contemporary Art and Contemporary and minimal architecture.
What do you love about being part of LC:M?
Being part of LC:M is a fantastic showcase for the brand that is growing each season.
Listen to what they’re been playing in the studio:
Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX: “I’ll Take Care Of You”
Duke Ellington & John Coltrane: “In A Sentimental Mood”