After spending some time working across London, Beirut and Amman, FTA 2020 Prize winner in the Debut Talent category, Zeid Hijazi has released his debut Spring/Summer 2022 collection titled “KALT”. Inspired by the Tunisian film, Bedwin Hacker, which is about a computer hacker and TV pirate who broadcasts messages promoting freedom and equality for North Africans, Hijazi’s collection revolves around a group of Palestinian women trying to televise the truth about their lived experience under occupation through their attempt at hacking various broadcast frequencies.

“The exploration of the modern versus the traditional and the means by which we communicate to resist an occupying force was my starting point,” explains Hijazi. The dagger, which is also Zeid Hijazi’s logo, is imagined as an antenna, the main means of communication. It is the tool through which the women are able to encrypt the messages and signals they hope the world will someday see. The cross-stitch embroidery present throughout the collection, namely, motifs called Little Ears of Corn, Cypress, The Key of Hebron and more, are imagined as the coded data the women are attempting to televise. Palestinian embroidery has always been a generational method of communication and, in Palestine’s most recent history, it has been used as a tool to communicate and express resistance.

Hijazi’s exploration of his Palestinian heritage transcends the traditional craft of embroidery. An image of a Palestinian-made doll was discovered in the digital archives of the British Museum and the designer screen printed it on off-white embroidered denim. The “Kalt Cape”, which can best be described as a Hijazi staple, will continue to be developed in seasons to come, representing as it does a refinement of Palestinian upholstery in a contemporary manner.

Architectural device

Hijazi’s debut collection, “KALT”, honors the various women he has looked up to and admired throughout his life. “The Kalt Coat” – a sophisticated, long black coat with effortlessly exaggerated shoulders, is a reference to Sofia Hamza, who played the hacker in the Tunisian film “Bedwin Hacker”. The coat, made from medium-weight wool, took three months to sample and develop. “While the coat might look heavy, it is actually light and accessible,” he says. By using boning, a technique often used for corsetry, the pointed shoulders are not shoulder pads — they are the result of meticulous, innovative and experimental pattern making. “Creating this piece was like a puzzle, we experimented for months to get the end result you see today,” he explains.

Hijazi’s dagger logo makes several appearances on the garments, take the pockets for example, which are dagger-shaped. The “Kalt Dress”, a heavy-weight black crepe evening gown, is his homage to the Arab actresses he grew up watching on television as a kid. Inspired by Arab drama, the dress draws its in inspiration from cuts often see on belly dancing garments. “The Sherif Coat”, a sharply tailored white coat, is a tribute to the Palestinian trailblazer, Leila Khaled, who wore a “elegant white suit” as she fought for freedom.

Zeid Hijazi’s debut collection is a beautifully curated architectural device. It’s a step away from Arab glamour and is very much rooted in all things Arab drama. Its exquisite tailoring, sharp cuts and experimental patterns allowed fabrics such as denim, wool and others to be disrupted into interesting shapes — which is worth revisiting again. While this collection is just a glimpse into the Hijazi universe, it was enough to have us say it’s one of the most exciting releases the region has seen in recent years.