Two of the five designers chosen for the Dubai Fashion Week had political messages woven into their designs. Ahram Online interviews them, on location after their desfile.
Libyan descent Zahra Rose, of only 18 years of age, was raised in England and recently won the East Sussex award for her painting of a child crying in the Libyan war.
“Originally I’m a painter,” states Zahra Rose, describing herself.
Ahram Online: What inspired you, then to participate in the Dubai Fashion Week?
Zahra Rose: Well, my sister, Asmaa actually, found it on the internet and said “wouldn’t it be cool if you went?”
I didn’t tell anyone I applied - not even my sister! I was surprised I was even accepted.
Some of her pieces are reminiscent of the flowing Abayya, using leftover Sari material that she found in Indian trash bins.
We throw away so much, and especially in India.
AO: In India? Isn’t it the West who consumes so much?
ZR: You should see all of the garbage dumps in India. They’re just full of stuff. The other day someone asked to purchase my Doritos clutch bag. People have offered up to 50 [British] pounds. I just thought to myself: “Why don’t you make it yourself? The trash is everywhere.” I don’t want to sell it. Actually, I haven’t sold a single piece and I don’t really want to. It’s more of just a statement on how much we throw away.
Rose’s most sassy - dare we call it – “trashy” piece was a short dress made of white plastic shopping bags from Tesco.
Another fashion designer, Kahusik Ghosh, can rather be described as a political artist who works in the medium of fabric. The mostly linen- and cotton-based fabrics work so well in warm countries, like India, and give a hippie-at-heart feel. To top it off, each piece is a work of artistic labour. Using the batig technique of applying wax to the fabric and then dyeing the areas around the wax, he is able to create pieces that are 100% unique.
So where’s the politics? He chose to honour important figures that push for change by applying their silhouettes in the dyeing process. A sort of organic, yet completely stylish bumper sticker.
Indian activists such as Binayak Sen and Sharmila Singh Chanu from India, Loe Zixoo from China made his list of people who have made an important imprint on politics. He also honoured the unexpected, as he sees the influence that Wikileaks, and even Steve Jobs had on the world.
The silhouettes are sometimes asymmetrically well-placed chest, but often are on the fringes of long skirts.
Having only worked in fashion for the past three – four years his studio is busy with handmade delights. This businessman/activist hasn’t set up a store yet and is looking for a partner. Ghosh has presented in three other shows in India (Calcutta, Bangalore, and Hadrobad), but this is his first, internationally.
AO: Do you consider yourself an activist?
Kaushik Ghosh: Yes, absolutely.
AO: Do you participate in other types of activities in India?
KG: I feel that I can be an activist as a designer. And the people who wear my garments also make a political statement.