Since its inception, London-based fashion brand Qasimi – now under the creative direction of Hoor Al Qasimi – has presented its gender-fluid collections through a socio-political lens that also reflects its multicultural origins. “We hope we can bring together the world of art and fashion in a way that can inspire people and create more conversation between the two disciplines,” says Al Qasimi. For its Spring/Summer 2024 collection, Qasimi continued its collaboration with legendary Sudanese artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq – a feminist icon and a pioneering figure in Sudanese and African art since the 1960s. The collection is a conversation between the artist’s prints and silhouettes. “My life is full of folktales and legends – art comes from thoughts and memories,” Ishaq has said. The artist’s Women in Crystal Cubes (1984) acts as the root of the collection, alongside later works such as My Plant, Blues for the Martyrs and Composition. The colour palette is earthy and takes inspiration from the sun, sand and sky that form the backdrop of the scenes of women’s lives in the painting. Other elements that mirror the artist’s work are beading and embroidery crafted by artisans, as well as more tactile interpretations such as silk-printing her artworks. Cubic crystal embellishments allude to her involvement in founding The Crystalist art group, while other garments reference her rich dreamy oils. The launch of the seasonal collection coincided with the beginning of the ongoing political unrest in Sudan, where continued violence is displacing a large proportion of the population, with approximately one-third of the population facing hunger every day. The brand hopes the collection will help bring more awareness to the current crisis and show its support for those affected by it.
“We hope that showcasing Kamala’s work will spotlight and [bring] awareness to the current situation in Sudan,” Al Qasimi explains. “It is devastating that this launch has come at this terrible moment that has affected many lives, and the painting we used for the large print, Blues for the Martyrs, painted in 2022 – which referenced the Khartoum massacre in 2019 – feels especially poignant now.”
The collection is an homage to the defining stories of Ishaq and her visceral works that inspire a distinct exploration of optimism and defiance in the face of adversity.