Qasimi—a Product of Pedigree and an Innate Sense of Style By Liz Guber Designer Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi proves season after season that good taste isn’t bought, it’s bred. Models strutting the runways at Paris Fashion Week exude the designer’s innate, almost instinctive style It all started at architecture school, at the University College in London (UCL). However, in true Zeitgeist form, one art transitioned into another, steering Qasimi down the path of fashion design. Qasimi attended Central Saint Martins, the school attended by industry heavy-weights Alexander McQueen and John Galliano in their formative years. He didn’t stay there long however, leaving after two years. In 2008, along with his business partner, Elliot J. Frieze, the new label showcased at London Fashion Week. The standout collection for the designer was heavily influenced by Byzantine opulence. Strong warrior women walked the runway in dresses of gilded organza. The designs bravely referenced the Middle East, featuring unapologetically large shoulders and liberal studding. The striking clothes caught the attention of Lady Gaga, who donned a Qasimi look on several occasions. When the time came for Qasimi to show at London Fashion Week in 2010, his name was mysteriously missing from the line-up. Not getting the desired time slot for prime buyer and media exposure, Qasimi declined to show instead opting to show at Paris Fashion Week. He has been a perennial favorite ever since. Currently, the designer is enjoying the success of his luxury menswear line Qasimi Homme, based in Paris. Strength, sophistication and style nicely sum up the Qasimi Homme aesthetic. The 2012 Fall/Winter show painted the Qasimi man as an urban horseback warrior. The color palette was kept classic, black, white and gray, infused with rust and occasional orange. Textures repeated throughout the collection were lustrous wools, smooth leather, and daring sheers. Plaids and even masculine floral prints were incorporated. The overall silhouette can be described as boxy, yet fluid, with perfectly cut coats and jackets that retained classic lines. Riding hats acted as the final touch atop the models’ heads. We’ll concede that not everything from the label can transcend easily from the runway to the street. In all Qasimi looks there seems to be an underlying clash of rebellion and conformity. Perhaps floor length man-skirts and sheer plaid button-downs are a stretch for the average man. The elegance and simplicity, and most importantly, the practicality of most of the pieces, particularity the decadent outerwear, cannot be denied. One could say that Qasimi achieved the seemingly impossible, pushing the boundaries of menswear, while never veering on the side of gimmick, retaining total authenticity. More amazing still is his inclusion of his Middle Eastern roots in each collection.