Islamic architectural influences and cultural design techniques reign supreme at the brand’s London Fashion Week show.
With a title cut from the Syrian poet Adunis’ response to the 1967 Six-Day War and a backdrop celebrating the British modernist work of architect Sir Raymond McGrath and designer Christopher Tunnard, QASIMI’s Between Roses & Ashes SS22 show ensures a deep cultural ethos is established, even before the clothes are revealed.
Gracing the London Fashion Week’s schedule and enlisting the Lahore-based jeweller Zohra Rahman to create statement broaches and pendants for the collection, the brand unveils one of its primary step into the world of womenswear with its latest display. A cacophony of influences is the collection focal point as army-inspired mesh and patterns drawn from the muqarnas geometric vaulting found in Islamic architecture meet sportswear sensibilities and references from the Indian subcontinent in a truly celebratory form. Rich grape tones clash with electric pink and mustard yellows hues, further embedding the collection’s dedication to complementary contrast.
The cultural references do not cease at inspiration, however. Calling on techniques both old and new, laser-cut cotton outerwear is situated amongst garments crafted from native weaving techniques and embellishments synonymous with Emirati dress as impeccable craftsmanship ensures that the architectural lines, which can be found in the brand’s signature menswear, are manipulated for figure-producing womenswear in a display of tailoring technique mastery.
“You can see woven jacquard on some of the pieces which were inspired by brick relief work found on Islamic Architecture,” explains QASIMI’s designer Hoor al-Qasimi when speaking on the plethora of influences that can be found in the collection. “The angharaki shirt with it’s particular neckline and the Nehru inspired collars both reference cultural attire from the Indian Sub-continent, the tarbousha woven tassel is often worn on traditional men’s attire in the Arabian Gulf. We also have the Kandora, which is worn in many cultures in the MENASA region as well as the rest of the African continent.”
Head below to read out interview with Hoor al-Qasimi as she discusses the collection’s partnership with Zohra Rahman, the cultural references lacing the garments and the future of QASIMI.
Hi Hoor al-Qasimi, how have you been over the past year?
I can’t complain, I have been very busy and working on many projects and managed to spend some time with my family.
Do you think the pandemic has affected you creatively?
It has been difficult trying to catch up on things and have time to think and focus. I am usually inspired by travel and going to exhibitions which has been limited due to the pandemic.
Can you tell us a bit about your beginnings in design? When did you realise you wanted to get into fashion?
I went to art school and have a BA in Fine Art and MA in Curating Contemporary Art. My background is mainly in the arts and I have worked with architects and designers, I got involved with QASIMI after the passing of my twin brother Khalid, it was important to continue his legacy and try to stay true to his vision.
Who would you say are your main fashion inspirations?
I have always loved and been inspired by Japanese designer and contemporary culture, including architecture and the language.
Congratulations on your upcoming SS22 show at London Fashion Week, how does it feel to have your designs showcased on such a major platform?
It’s of course an honour and a privilege to be showcased during London Fashion Week, we are very happy with the response we have received and are grateful to LFW for their support.
Womenswear is a new addition to your collections, what inspired you to start adding this to your lines?
Womenswear has been in the planning for a long time, my brother Khalid had introduced women’s looks within his shows in the hopes of starting a womenswear line in the coming years. When I came on board in AW20 it made sense to launch the womenswear line.
Your latest collection hopes to draw from Islamic Architecture and cultural attire from across the regions of the Middle East, North Africa & South Asia. How have you incorporated these themes into the collection?
You can see woven jacquard on some of the pieces which were inspired by brick relief work found on Islamic Architecture. The angharaki shirt with it’s particular neckline and the Nehru inspired collars both reference cultural attire from the Indian Sub-continent, the tarbousha woven tassel is often worn on traditional men’s attire in the Arabian Gulf. We also have the Kandora, which is worn in many cultures in the MENASA region as well as the rest of the African continent.
Talks us through your collaboration Zohra Rahman. Both your and Zohra Rahman’s work have an ethos embedded in your cultures and female empowerment, what inspired you to focus on these themes for this particular collection?
I met Zohra in 2019 while I was in Lahore working on the 2nd Lahore Biennale which I curated. I loved her use of traditional Urdu text and the influence of Islamic design and architecture to create elegant contemporary pieces. It has been a pleasure collaborating on these pieces.
You have also partnered with IRTHI contemporary crafts council for this collection which focuses on empowering female creatives. How do you hope to change the creative industry with initiatives such as this?
I think it’s important to recognise the work of craftsmen and women who have spent their lives perfecting a specific craft, it’s essential to not only support them by collaborating but also give credit and not try to emulate or copy their work.
It is clear that inclusivity is also at the heart of your work, what is it about initiatives such as the BBC’s 50/50 project which you are taking part in that you admire?
I think it’s important to address the inequalities in recruitment and representation in all industries and I hope that this initiative by the BBC will make a difference.
How do you ensure that your twin brother’s legacy shines through in all of your collections?
We have stuck to the brand pillars which he had defined and use this as inspiration throughout each collection. We have also maintained a similar silhouette and aesthetic.
What are your plans for the brand after the reveal of your SS22 collection?
We want to be recognised for the quality, attention to detail and craftsmanship we put into each piece, and plan to continue to support and promote craft in our future collections.