LONDON: Currently on show at London’s Victoria & Albert museum as part of its Jameel Prize 5 exhibition, which runs until Nov. 25, is the striking work of Bahraini artist Hala Kaiksow. Arab News caught up with the designer to learn more about how she incorporates traditional Bahraini craftsmanship into her luxurious contemporary garments.
Making clothes that women can wear with ease is a key aim of the visionary designer.
“I love fluid, soft garments that complement the body while still being functional. I particularly like jumpsuits or pants that enable a woman to move freely. I use Bahraini national garments but re-contextualize them to suit the needs and lifestyles of women today,” Kaiksow told Arab News.
There is a strong focus on using natural fabrics and processes and then adding a contrasting manmade element in her work.
“We mostly use natural fibers, which we also dye naturally with different plants and trees to achieve the desired colors. I also like to play with manmade materials to juxtapose the natural with the manmade. For (the most recent) collection I used latex, but in a special way as I had the latex embroidered with mother of pearl,” she said.
For Kaiksow, who did her BA in Fine Arts at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, Boston, and her MA in Collection Design at Polimoda, the renowned Italian fashion institute, the design process has an almost meditative quality.
“For me weaving is almost therapeutic. When I am weaving I enter a meditative state. It’s hours and hours of work just setting up the loom and going back and forth. I try to give the garments soul — something that I think is sadly missing from clothing today.
“We have a throwaway culture, but clothing should not be disposable. It should be like an investment — garments you keep for the rest of your life.”