Designer and artist Osman Yousefzada wants to use fashion as a platform for inclusion. The son of Afghan-Pakistani immigrants to the United Kingdom and author of the forthcoming memoir The Go-Between: A Portrait of Growing Up Between Different Worlds, he recently wrapped the Selfridges department store in his native Birmingham, England with a five-ton canvas that explores themes of migration and identity. In lieu of putting on a runway show at London Fashion Week, on Wednesday he unveiled what he called an “installation,” a portrait series titled ‘Diasporic Love’ featuring South Asian creatives like model and activist Sheerah Ravindren and cultural producer Ryan Lanji.
“For me it’s about putting South Asian diasporic identity to the forefront of my conversations,” Yousefzada says. “I want to use my space for inclusion and take other people in.”
The Fall 2022 collection features fabrics hand-loomed in India and Pakistan, and Yousefzada intends it as a melting pot of cultural influences. Minimal couture silhouettes, for example, are inspired by the clean-lined designs of 1960s Roman couturier Roberto Capucci, and feature Rajasthani mirror embroidery. A sadri — a traditional Afghan waistcoat — was made with deadstock fabric from Uzbekistan and paired with sneakers. Crop tops inspired by the underpinnings for Indian saris and lehengas are styled with pleated miniskirts and and worn by both men and women.
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Youzefzada champions artisanal craft techniques: embroidery is done with traditional gold thread and patchwork pieces are hand-dipped and edge-dyed. Many of the looks are styled with gold and silver sandals sourced from the bazaars of Multan, Pakistan.
“It’s about occupying space and having your own identity which actually takes you to a space where you’re not conforming,” Yousefzada says. “You’re celebrating your own expression and hybridity.”