Designer Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasim is using his brand Qasimi to discuss political issues others are quick to shy away from. Just take his SS17 collection at London Collections: Men, in which the agenda-setting creative sought to underline the American occupation in the Middle East with a multi-sensory presentation.
A graduate of both Central Saint Martins and the Architectural Association, Qasimi is originally from Sharjah (considered as the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates). Since launching his label, he’s garnered praise for his sensitive exploration of the often volatile relationship that exists between the Middle East and the West. Whether he’s calling to arms against mass media propaganda and its subsequent ability to ignite widespread anti-immigrant feelings, or challenging ideas about the Arab world — the designer is pushing necessary dialogue about social change and popular perceptions in America.
Here, Qasimi shares an exclusive first look at his SS17 film VideoGames War and explains his hopes for a progressive future.
Elizabeth Coop: What can you tell us about Videogame Wars?
Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi: As most people know, the Gulf War of 1990 was one of the first conflicts to receive live TV coverage. The big television networks in America, would refer to the conflict and coverage as the ‘Videogame War’, the film I used in my LCM presentation is a direct result of that. The SS17 collection was inspired by the loss of innocence at the hands of war and more specifically, it was centred around the idea of a young boy wanting to grow up outside of warfare.
EC: For you, how important is a multi-sensory presentation?
KBSAQ: It is very important to me, film is such a powerful tool. I used it here to immerse the public into the vision I had whilst creating the collection.
EC: In the current political landscape the content couldn’t be more relevant.
KBSAQ: There has always been an element of political commentary in our work. Our SS16 collection was titled False Flags and touched on issues surrounding the concept of false flag attacks amidst conflict. The starting point for our FW16 collection South Shields came from ideas of immigration and assimilation, which are incredibly relevant at the moment. I think it’s becoming more and more important for me to voice these issues and involve the public in this dialogue.
EC: The political framework in Britain has changed beyond recognition in the last few weeks, unsurprisingly the words ‘renegade regimes and unpredictable rulers’ in your film resonate. What do they mean to you in this context?
KBSAQ: In the lead up to the Gulf War, George Bush made a speech in anticipation of the conflict and these words are directly lifted from that speech. I wanted to incorporate them in the film as they highlight the parallels in time and draw attention to the fact that little has changed — American occupation still prevails in the Middle East, all the whilst feeding the arms industry.
EC: What are your hopes for a progressive future?
KBSAQ: I hope that we can all begin to work together to get a better understanding of each other, our cultures an belief systems, that we can find a peaceful lasting solution to all the conflict that is happening.