Kamaal Barwany specialises in womenswear focusing on both tailoring and creative pattern cutting techniques. Current works focus on couture-esque sculptural forms combining precise detailing and embellishment with exaggerated silhouettes. The outcomes subvert traditional conventions and symbolise the storytelling behind his collections.
The feelings of loss, otherness and abandonment, that result from Barwany's unexpected estrangement from his father, have been translated into beautiful creations that tell his story. His graduation collection led to a deeper exploration of himself allowing him to channel memories and current emotions, time-stamping an authentic and significant moment in his life.
Summer 2023, Barwany releases their debut graduate collection which centres around themes of dissociation from family heritage and identity. Inspiration for the collection is drawn from old sepia-toned family photos of Zanzibar from the 90s, and memories from a single visit in 2014.
The silhouettes are reminiscent of large shells found on the beaches of Zanzibar, with models appearing to emerge from the adorned shell formations. While shells are commonly collected as an object of natural beauty, here they symbolise protection. They fancifully reimagine fortification in the designer's experience of wanting to protect his mother from all the hurt involved in a sudden, cruel divorce.
The use of innovative techniques features throughout the design process. The garments are embellished by hand with sequins, manipulated one by one to create the illusion of a seashell. These small forms cluster together in natural patterns across the garments. The use of these embellishments combined with pin tucking throughout the collection helps to exaggerate the silhouette. In addition to this, a custom sequin fabric was developed specially for the collection. Manipulated with adhesive and sand, this new medium mimics the ripples in the ocean and is also reminiscent of fish scales.