Luxury, elegance and timeless appeal sums up the Qasimi brand. Archiecturally-trained fashion designer Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qassimi is the founder and creative director behind the London based fashion house. Garnering inspiration through different creative facets such as music, film, art and undoubtedly architecture, Al-Qassimi's vision is to form sophisticated yet contemporary pieces that reflect the defining spirit of today and also have the ability to suit the mood of the future.
Excelling in both pret-a-porter and couture, Qasimi's collections are a definite indication that this fashion brand is here to stay. Donned by the likes of Lady Gaga and Cheryl Cole, the line appeals to women who have impeccable taste in fashion. Khaleejesque brings you the exclusive interview with Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qassimi that sheds light on his foray into the fashion world, his inspirations and life as a Khaleeji designer.
Khaleejesque Team: The beginning is always vital to every designer. How did you first get interested in pursuing a career in the world of fashion?
Sheikh Khalid Al-Qassimi: I have always been interested in fashion; ever since a young age. At 13, I decided that one day I would have a brand. Also, being surrounded by well-dressed women led me into discovering the industry through many facets, whether in clothing, photography or beauty.
KT: What does fashion mean to you?
SKQ: Fashion needs to reflect the state we are in; it needs to empower the individual. Qasimi is all about strength and confidence.
KT: How did you take off into the fashion world?
SKQ: I assisted a photographer at the age of 15; I used to run around London carrying studio lights and helping stylists with looks. I then applied to Central St Martins and took a foundation course, which led me into architecture. Throughout my studies I would still sketch and research fashion. I did night classes in pattern cutting. I then reapplied to Central St. Martins and got onto a womenswear course. I left after two years and decided to create a small capsule collection, which in turn attracted a few major players and helped me fulfill my dream.
KT: Why London and not any other major fashion capital?
SKQ: I have been based in London for over 20 years and it’s thanks to this city that I am doing what I love. London is an extremely exciting city with intense creative energy. It has always been at the forefront of fashion when it comes to cutting edge design.
KT: Did you find support from society, your country and the Gulf? Especially when you're the only son of Ruler of Sharjah H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed AlQassimi?
SKQ: It hasn’t been easy; one needs to break moulds and traditional views. I feel that if I can inspire others to believe in themselves and fulfill their calling, then my job is done. I have had great feedback and recently a lot of support from young people in the Gulf.
KT: What inspires you?
SKQ: Music! Film, art, architecture and my daily movements throughout the city.
KT: Can you give us a description of the basic process you go through to design and realize a Qasimi piece of art.
SKQ: I usually spend a week putting together a mood board alongside a music play list; then it’s fabric selection and print designs, silhouettes and structure, toiles, adjustments and reworking garments over and over till they are perfect. In the last 2 weeks, pieces are knocked up into their final fabrics.
KT: What would you say is your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
SKQ: Coming up with the over all mood, working on "toiles" and finally seeing the pieces come to life.
KT: How could you best describe the essence of your designs?
SKQ: Dynamic elegance.
KT: What matters to you most as a fashion designer?
SKQ: That the garments are current and reflect the mood of tomorrow.
KT: How did it feel after finishing your first fashion show?
SKQ: Exhausted! There is hardly any sleep in fashion.
KT: What is next for Qasimi? Any short term and long-term design goals?
SKQ: I am currently working on Menswear A/W 10/11 and Women’s A/W. It is a short season so both collections need to be worked on at the same time. As for goals, at the moment getting stocked globally, refining the Qasimi voice, as well as going into lifestyle design and housing.
KT: Do you have a strong Khaleeji customer base? Or is your international customer base bigger?
SKQ: We only stock in Europe, but we have had a few orders from Saudi based stores this season; so our Gulf customer base is growing.
KT: Celebrities usually promote the trendiest fashion brands. Are there any celebrities wearing your designs?
SKQ: Lady Gaga, Florence Welch and Cheryl Cole.
KT: Is Qasimi going to initiate a pret-a-porter line? If so will it be stocked somewhere here in the Gulf?
SKQ: Qasimi already has a ready to wear line that is only shown in Paris during sales week- I will be working on an exclusive Middle East Collection in the future.
KT: How can a Khaleeji consumer who is interested in your design get a hold of a Qasimi piece of clothing over here?
SKQ: Contact us! We do take orders but usually it’s difficult when working on 4 collections a year. We also are stocked in various stores in the UK.
To preview all of Qasimi's collections and for more information about the international fashion brand, visit Qasimi.com.
– Danah Taqi for Khaleejesque. Images: Qasimi