Friday, 3 July 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Omar Kashoura

Steve has been a huge fan of Omar Kashoura from the moment he stumbled across one of his deconstructed cardigans hanging on the rails of The Shop at Bluebird two years ago and we've been following his career ever since. Last season (AW09) saw the London Based designer unleash his first full collection Man Boy, following his graduation from his Masters at Central Saint Martins. It forced us all to take notice and declare that he is one Britain's leading menswear design talents. We caught up with Omar just as he was applying the finishing touches to his latest collection before packing his bags for Paris. Omar was returning for his second season at capsule to present his SS10 collected titled Popeye in Trouville. As Omar works away at his collection, we chat about Popeye, his passion for movies and his hopes for the future...we think 2009 is going to be a big year for Omar...

An action shot. Omar hard at work on a pair of trousers in his stuido

Style Salvage: What drove you to become a menswear designer?
Omar Kashoura: Fate….destiny I guess…I have this drive within me which come from somewhere I'm not quite sure where!!

SS: Steve first became a fan of your work by stumbling across a wonderfully detailed cardigan on the rails at Shop at Bluebird which I duly bought. When I describe your designs I always mention your trademark detailing which often transforms a simple silhouette to create such bold impact. How would you describe your own work?
OK: My work…ummm, I guess you could say its somewhat directional, and yet while remaining masculine pushes boundaries with garments that are fun but yet crafted beautifully. I personally feel that there is nothing more beautiful than a gentleman, a gentleman of image and persona, but not in the traditional way. In my work I am trying to re-create this feeling, referencing traditional techniques and shapes with modern cutting done so to highlight and accentuate areas of the male form.

Style Salvage: Tell us a little history about your beginnings…
OK: Well I'm from Leeds (though of Arabic decent), spent my early days with horses in my back yard and playing with my twin. Developed into rather an ambitious guy and now enjoying the fruits of London and of course the recognition and successes that are coming my way through developing my product.

Omar's sewing station and inspiration board.

SS: Is there a Kashoura man/muse? If so, goes he change from season to season and who is he now?

OK: Sure there is a muse, though right now he is fictional he’s in my vision, as a form you could describe him as the man boy, as a character…maybe even a modern Popeye!!

SS: For your Autumn Winter 09 collection "Sunday Best" you drew inspiration from the E. M Forster novel 'Howards End' and I loved how you combined rich high society style of Regency England with a casual, distinctly luxurious approach to design. What was it about the novel that inspired you?
OK: Actually I'm rather more a movies kinda guy, and find very little time to read novels, though I do engage in a lot of social and fashion theory texts when I am doing my research. My inspiration actually came from the film Howards End, I loved the story, the visuals and of course I was inspired by the costume.

SS: What films/books/tv-programs/moments and stories currently inspire your design?
OK: Popeye and Gigi were key focuses for the SS10 collection

Popeye and other male form inspirations.

Men playing at being men was a key theme of the SS10 collection

SS: For you AW09 collection you collaborated with with Royal College of Art graduate Jarah Stoop and the result is a range of opulent bags in lavender leather and custard canvas with lamb’s fur trim which left me salivating at the the press viewing. How did this collaboration come about?

OK: Actually I won the Deutsche Bank pyramid award last year and the ceremony took place at the Royal. There I came across Jarah’s end of year show and was amazed at her products. Took her details and kept them on my wall for one day, only that day came faster than expected and I found myself contacting her to begin our working relationship. You should keep your eyes open for SS10 bags, they are amazing!!.

An amazing print of two crabs supposedly getting intimate on the pebbles.

SS: Who are you collaborating with anyone for you SS10 collection? Who would you love to work with in the future?

OK: We worked with Rosie Davies on a print and of course developed our bags with Jarah Stoop.

SS: Your SS10 collection is titled "Popeye in Trouville" but rather than explore typical sailor chic it conjures up memories of the seaside. How did the fictional sailor hero inspire your collection?
OK: Popeye, he’s great don’t you think!. Rather than take direct, I wanted to reference him more as the character. He’s the modern pin up and male ideal, has the body, the lady and charm. I found his character fitting for the season which was actually formed around the musical Gigi and looking at men and how we dress up, from costume to every day life putting on our attire and heading out to the streets.

The Popeye family as displayed in one of Omar's many annuals.

SS: What are you most proud of or pleased with from the collection?
OK: I think there are many elements which have pushed the boundaries for Kashoura, though I would have to say the shirts. The application of details has been developed into a fresh and modern way….I guess you are going to have to hunt them down to see for yourself!.

SS: You narrowly missed out on showing at MAN but presented your AW09 collection at Arabian Fashion World, how did your first catwalk show go?
OK: Rather an experience I may add. The opportunity was amazing and all the people involved were wonderful. It was a great opportunity for me to open to other industries and parts of the world. As you may notice I rather enjoy to collaborate with other designers and hoped that this event would bring about further opportunities for future collaborations.

These pieces were from Omar's Graduate Collection and now hang in his living room.

SS: What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that more men wore?
OK: A proper pair of trousers.

SS: If you could go back in time and experience any fashion moment, what would it be
OK: The time when all men, rich or poor wore suits and top hats.

SS: Who are your personal style icons?
OK: Actually I don't have any. I look at all people and take style inspiration from anywhere and, often from myself too and how I wear my items of clothing.

SS: What would you like to achieve in 2009 and beyond?
OK: I recently applied for showing in Italy and in Japan. To gain these awards would be the perfect next step for the house of Kashoura, oh and of course to be included in this seasons coming shows with MAN here in London.

As you should all know, over the last few months we've been collecting together the recommendations of our interviewees of places to go to shop, eat, drink and generally enjoy yourself. We couldn't let Omar escape to Paris without acquiring his favourite London haunts which have now been added to the map...

Party at Horsemeat Disco
Hair do your own ( I do!!)
Look at Google - you can find out anything you desire here, even more on myself if you are interested!!
Shop at Jeanette's (new cool boutique in East London).


We can't wait to post his SS10 look book images and we promise to be the first to do so but in the meantime, for more info on Omar please visit his site.


James said...

I love this. I have been a fan of Omar for a while as well. It is great to see him at work in his studio. The crab print is amazing and I simply cannot wait to see the collection in full.

Thrifty Beatnik said...

'The time when all men, rich or poor wore suits and top hats.'

This Just made my christmass list : )

Anonymous said...

I've just just read through this as I ate my breakfast, a great read.

Keith said...

Great interview and photos. This is my first time visiting your blog. I really like it. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Where has this designer been??? He is wonderful, what lovely interview and a beautiful collection on his website.

thank you

Hapsical Blog said...

Always interesting to hear from creators, good stuff.

dapper kid said...

I actually stumbled across his work recently, and was absolutely blown away. The collection sounds like it should be amazing, a modern Popeye is definitely one heck of a cool inspiration! And I am with him on going back to the times of suits and hats. I remember seeing the historical shots of the Tube and seeing a sea of men in hats, it was quite a sight. said...

great interview!



Ruth said...

What an interesting interview

Ruth @ Matches

TheSundayBest said...

Take all of these and make them into a newspaper.


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