FAITH AND FASHION: Collecting Arab Dress, Chronicling Multiple Faiths

Professor Reina Lewis will be in conversation with Dr Reem El Mutwalli to explore the curatorial decisions that underpin her mission to use dress to explain the evolution of regional cultures across the Arab world. Dr El Mutwalli founded the Zay Initiative in 2019 to collect and contextualise garments from the diverse populations of the Arab world, using dress to tell a story of affinities and distinctions that span multiple faith and secular traditions and histories.  

Custodian of over 1500 pieces of dress and adornment, the Initiative’s archive and website is creating rich content for designers and scholars around the world. Personal dress histories for each garment illustrate the diversity of populations in the Arab lands and in the diaspora and combine with garment analysis to revealing the regional and transnational dynamism of taste and creativity. The Initiative’s ambitious programme of webinars and public events builds awareness of the complexity and interconnectedness of regional and global Arab cultures for audiences near and far.  

Join Reina and Reem to discuss the cultural politics of curation and the intersecting role of religious, national, secular, and ethnic affiliations in the present and history of Arab fashion.

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