First Published: 2016-08-02

Famous Palestinian designer back home
US-based fashion designer Kashou, who has list of celebrity clients, brings his talent to West bank.
Middle East Online

Kashou hosted a three-day pop-up fashion shop in Ramallah

RAMALLAH - Rami Kashou's designs are worn by Hollywood stars and royalty but for the past few days he has been back home in the occupied West Bank rather than London, Paris or New York.

As on most days, Yasser Arafat Square in central Ramallah was crowded with pedestrians, taxis with screaming horns and fruit sellers lugging their goods on carts.

But tucked behind a nondescript door another world beckoned: one of burgundy walls and floor-length mirrors, as Kashou hosted a three-day pop-up fashion shop.

A handful of women of all ages browsed the elegant designs, occasionally trying on clothes under the watchful eyes of Kashou, who rushed to dispense fashion advice when needed.

The US-based fashion designer has a list of celebrity clients including Hollywood actress Jessica Alba, reality TV star Kim Kardashian and Queen Rania of Jordan.

But Kashou, who is 40 and was born in Jerusalem, has now made copies for Palestinian women of his creations that they would otherwise only see in magazines.

He left for the United States in 1996 and now lives in New York.

"I was away for a long time," the bearded, shaven-headed Kashou, dressed in black, said in the store.

"I usually come to visit my family, (but) this is the first time I brought my designs here."

- Project Runway -

Kashou shot to fame in 2008 when he appeared on the fourth season of the "Project Runway" reality television.

He reached the finals, coming second to Christian Siriano, who designed the dress worn by US First Lady Michelle Obama as she addressed the Democratic National Convention last week.

Kashou said the show opened doors for him in America and elsewhere.

"I benefited a lot. It was a big advert, especially for me as a Palestinian designer," he said. "And the Arab world became aware of me."

He is now developing his brand in Arab countries.

In Ramallah, the Palestinian political capital in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, he showed off his unique style of dresses, including one resembling a bouquet of flowers with a pink and red collar, which he said was inspired by a trip to Puerto Rico.

The garments, including a magenta cocktail dress designed for supermodel Heidi Klum, feature a range of exquisite fabrics such as chiffon, georgette, lame and silk.

Suha Hussein, 32, inspected herself in the mirror as she tried on a sleek black Moroccan-style dress with beads engraved around the neck, based on an original made for Queen Rania.

"I feel proud because we have such a talent and he is still interested in returning to his country," she said.

Turning to the dress, she smiled: "I hope it isn't too expensive, so I can buy it."

A single Rami Kashou dress can cost several thousand dollars, a sum impossible to imagine for the vast majority of Palestinians, where the unemployment rate is around 27 percent and one in five of those in work makes less than $380 a month.

Does the designer who has made it big in America really see opportunities in the Palestinian territories?

"There is an important market here," he said. "It is extremely important to study the market to know the customers and their needs."

"And it is wedding season, women here want glamour."

 

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison

Saudi king says Palestinians have 'right' to Jerusalem

Erdogan urges world to recognise Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

Saudi King says determined to confront corruption

South Sudan needs $1.7 billion humanitarian aid in 2018

UAE oil giant floats 10 percent of retail arm to strong interest

US skeptical about Putin's declaration of military victory in Syria

Growing concern about rise of far-right in Austria

Saudi, UAE seeks to help West Africa fight terrorism

Somali journalist dies after Mogadishu bombing

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim

French FM accuses Iran of carving out ‘axis’ of influence

Over 170 dead after South Sudan rival cattle herders clash