At UN, Palestinian-born designer uses fashion to show ‘another face’ of homeland

Special event featuring a collection from Palestinian designer Jamal Taslaq (centre), ahead of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (29 November). Photo: UN/Alexandra King

11 November 2014 – Through fashion – “a universal language” – Palestinian-born designer Jamal Taslaq unveiled his Fall-Winter collection at United Nations Headquarters in New York last night, spotlighting his long-troubled homeland, but also revealing “another face of Palestine,” inspired and inspiring, yearning to be at peace.

“It’s a pleasure for me this evening to represent my people with this kind of art. Fashion is a universal language. It is a way to show the world and people that fashion can be used to show another face of Palestine,” Mr. Taslaq said in an interview with UN Radio ahead of the fashion show, one of several events at Headquarters in the run-up to the International Day of Solidary with the Palestinian People, observed annually on 29 November.

Born in Nablus in 1970, Mr. Taslaq realized at the young age of 12 that he wanted to be a fashion designer and work with fabrics and embroidery. When he finished high school, Mr. Taslaq left for Jordan to study design and soon after moved to Italy in 1990.

“When I left Palestine I understood that I must do something for me and my people to show the world that we are the same as other people. We want a life. We want peace. We love. We have all the feelings that make us the same as other people,” he said.

Currently based in Rome, he says he feels like he lives in a museum and is constantly inspired by his surroundings. He is also very much inspired by his diverse clientele in the Middle East, Europe and the United States.

Crafted in Italy, Mr. Taslaq’s designs offer a modern reinterpretation of ancient traditional Palestinian embroideries, while combining modern Italian style. This latest collection he says pays tribute to his homeland.

The collection includes 30 evening gowns, cocktail dresses and tailored suits, all characterized by Mr. Taslaq’s geometric cuts. The fabrics used are silk, chiffon, crepe and georgette. The predominant colours are white, ivory, red, green and black.

Mr. Taslaq credits refugees in a camp in Jerash, Jordan with helped create some of the embroideries used in the collection.

Last night’s runaway finale featured a wedding dress entirely hand-embroidered, festooned with beads of olive wood, inlaid with stones of gold, ivory and mother of pearl, and finished with silk thread. The combination evokes the elements of the land harkening back to Taslaq’s roots.

“When I went to [the camps] in Palestine, I [told] everybody: ‘You must do what you want to do. It’s important.’ I know many people live in not good situations, but with a little help from everybody we can help [them]. They can do more and more.”

In November 2013, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (IYSPP). Since then, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People has organized various activities to raise awareness of obstacles to the ongoing peace process, such as settlements and the blockade of Gaza.


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