Qasimi: One to call their own

By Marriam N Mossalli


On its National Day, the United Arab Emirates had a lot to celebrate about: tallest building, biggest mall, two of their airlines voted as the World’s Top Ten and then of course, their very own fashion icon in the making, Khalid Al Qasimi.
It may appear odd that a single designer — and in this particular instance, a menswear designer — is on a list of such superlative national achievements. But, Al Qasimi, isn’t your average fashion designer; what he’s been able to achieve so far can only be a  recursor for what is yet to come.

It’s no secret the Arab fashion scene is burgeoning with talent, as well as the talentless. In fact, there appears to be an influx of Arab “designers” — all of them vying for the dimming limelight that lessens as the novelty of the once mystic land of Arabia begins to globalize.
Qasimi and his eponymous lines, QASIMI and QASIMI HOMME, are the real deal. Unlike many, he doesn’t feed off his ethnicity, or his predominant Emirati family background. Qasimi is a true designer who we are proud to claim as one of us. Since QASIMI’s debut in 2008, the brand has progressed from catwalk to catwalk, eventually culminating to a third consecutive on-schedule show during Paris Fashion Week.
“It’s a great honor to show among such established houses, like Rick Owens and Givenchy,” stated Qasimi, referring to his invitation to show on-schedule in Paris. “Editors and buyers are in abundance so it’s always good to have a presence there.”

While he may use the runway to get constructive criticism, Qasimi admits his biggest critic is his mother. “She doesn’t butter anything up,” he said on his mother’s tough love. “But she’s also my biggest supporter.”
Perhaps it is his mother’s influence that has made Qasimi’s women’s line so addictively coveted. His womenswear, which is best described as a wearable oriental fusion of Balmain ornamentation and McQueen drapery, continues to be a huge sensation in Europe and the United States. Lady Gaga, Jessica Alba, and other A-listers are feigning for his next installment of structured silhouettes and ornate outwear, but they may have to wait longer than just next season. “I’m focusing on menswear at the moment,” stated the designer. “QASIMI is always evolving. It’s still growing and at the moment, I feel like I need to focus on menswear.”

Working with a plethora of renowned stylists including Way Perry and Robbie Spencer, Qasimi collaborated with distinguished fashion photographer, Mariano Vivanco, to create a poignant film for QASIMI HOMME’s debut breakaway SS10 collection. Ever since, the luxury label has since garnered an impressive coverage from the international press, including Vogue Homme Japan, L’Officiel Homme, and Seventh Man. With his latest saga on the catwalk, Qasimi reinterprets his Middle Eastern roots into a contemporary collection of pure minimalism and sleek lines, entitled “The Empty Quarter.”
Qasimi’s SS11 collection draws inspiration from this desolate terrain in the Middle East, while “probing into the rural wilderness of a cross-cultural desert trek through time.” Beckoning a past era of nomadic tradition and mystical essence, yet consummating with the future of international fashion, Qasimi gives birth to a unique identity on the catwalks that has yet to be achieved so seamlessly.
“I’m constantly striving for perfection; trying to achieve something ethereal,” stated Qasimi. “It’s a journey of discovery.” Qasimi admits his works are echoes of his own experience and feelings. “It’s a post-oriental view on Western imperialism,” he revealed. “It’s in me, and so I referenced it… It’ll always be in me.”

This latest collection exudes the signature tailoring that has become synonymous with the luxury brand. “Lines are minimal and clean,” described Qasimi.
Disappearing lapels on suits, high collars, and slit pockets, reference traditional Middle Eastern garb, while the sleeveless suiting, oversized shirting and unlined linen jackets are mixed with the rugged panache of oversized hooded tops all of which are underlined with a hint of the militant masculinity.
“This season, QASIMI took more risk in the form of leather pieces,” he stated, referring to the appearance of leather in the form of sleeveless jackets and subtle accents.  “We also had a lot of knits and jersey, a staple in everyone’s closet nowadays.” . Fine delicate cotton and transparent technical fabrics are ironically utilized for outerwear in the form of flawless tailored trenches.
“The color palette is inspired by the Empty Quarter — the sand, sun, rocks,” revealed Qasimi. Stark black is synthesized with muted earth browns and pale grays, giving its military sophistication a softer, more organic edge. With the unveiling of geometrical prints for the first time, Qasimi dissected Arabesque patterns to create original prints that are quintessentially his. “The prints are developed from Islamic tiling found during a Jordanian expedition,” he revealed. “The prints were then reworked to achieve a more geometric form.”
The headbands are a contemporary interpretation (in various neutral colors) of the traditional men’s black egal. It’s a minimal take of the traditional headdress of the Middle East, I incorporated it to level out proportion of the look. I knew I wanted some kind of headgear and that was what ultimately came out.” Even his hidden hoods, once opened, undeniably reflect the triangular shape of the Arabian shomagh.

The QASIMI man is a romantic rebel,” explained Qasimi. “He is poetic, yet he is a fighter.”

Arab News article