Khalid Al Qasimi, founder and creative director of eponymous fashion label, Qasimi, passed away on Monday, July 1 at the age of 39. The fashion designer died in London, leaving behind an army of admirers, supporters and friends who hailed his talents as a designer.
Al Qasimi, born Sheikh Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasim is the son of His Highness, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates. In 1980 the crown prince moved to the U.K at the age of nine and went on to study architecture and fashion design at Central Saint Martins. In 2008 alongside designer Elliott James Frieze, he launched Qasimi and has been showing menswear and womenswear in London (and briefly in Paris) since then.
At the brand’s latest showing in London, the Arab fashion designer presented an elemental collection. With 2020 marking ten years since the label began offering menswear, the pieces were monochromatic and minimalistic.
Al Qasimi’s goal had always been to create “fashion with a message.” He once said, “Coming from the Middle East, I have a duty to discuss politics. Fashion is my kind of material to work with and express it.”
Inspired by his Arab heritage and Emirati values, the late Al Qasimi channeled his inspiration into beautiful and innovative designs. In 2008, he launched his menswear label “Qasimi,” said to be centered around the idea of an urban nomad.
Described by many as “a poetic and perceptive design mind,” the creative Emirati young man had a significant impact on the fashion world. He used his collections to express his philosophic views and his voice. His designs have been displayed as part of London and Paris Fashion Weeks; they delicately reflect a convergence of cultures and are infused with cultural, social and political undertones to inform and inspire.
His eponymous brand competed with the world’s best and became a well-known and unique name in the fashion industry. With youthful designs infused with colors, his collections featured a comment on current international problems and controversies, some of them featuring Arabic messages.
Al Qasimi’s T-shirt design from his autumn/winter 2017 collection became a subject of controversy, when it was replicated by the brand Vetements on its spring/summer 2020 catwalk in Paris. The T-shirt, which read “Don’t shoot” in Arabic, French and English, was a semi-replica of one originally worn by journalists in Lebanon during the Israeli occupation invasion of the country in 1982.
Al Qasimi’s designs spoke to the world’s conscience, conveying a cultural, social and political message. His collections made reference to a lot of issues – from Brexit, to discrimination. “It is a time for people to stand up and voice their opinions,” he said.
The fashion industry in the UK and the Middle East mourns with grief the passing of the successful UK-based fashion designer, whose designs will be always remembered as a romantic and hopeful vision of the Middle East’s future.