The Emperor's new clothes

The Golkar brothers from the United Arab Emirates, who won the India and Middle East regional final of the International Woolmark Prize in the menswear category, talk about their collection, the experience of meeting international designers and showcasing their creations in London 

Q. Why did you choose the name, The Emperor 1688, for your collection?
A. The Duchess of Windsor Wallis Simpson once said, “I may not be the best looking woman in the world, but I will be the best dressed.” Emperors always wore their attire with confidence. We wanted to recreate the same idea with our collection. We chose the year 1688 as 17th century architecture and fashion is intriguing and has played a crucial role in the history of fashion.

The Golkar brothers
The Golkar brothers

Q. What is the collection about? What challenges did you face while designing it?
A. We started by working on the idea of memory and familiarity. It was important that our collection, through its colour, texture and print, could trigger the memory of a historical event or a character.
Challenges are a part of designing process. For instance, we had to work with merino wool, and our challenge there was to capture the essence of the fibre more than anything else. The clothes we have made focus on the nomadic nature of the fibre.

The winning design
The winning design

Q. You competed with Indian, Pakistani and Lebanese designers in this competition. What did you learn from the experience and how did this cultural exchange mould your fashion aesthetic?
A. It was an honour to spend the day with these incredibly talented individuals and seeing their interpretation of wool. Our region has an ancient tradition associated with the fabric and its weaving techniques. It was great to see merino wool’s contemporary interpretation.

Q. Now that you have won the regional round, what do you plan to showcase in London?
A. Frankly, when we started out, our only goal was to win. But soon enough, we realised that this competition isn’t about winning but the journey of learning together. A competition allows you to showcase your creativity and try something you normally wouldn’t. In London we will be showing the essence, the DNA of The Emperor 1688.

Q. In what way is this collection different from your earlier works?
A. We always try and maintain a balance between creativity and commercial relevance of our designs. People love the unfamiliar but at the same time familiarity is comforting for them. The London collection strikes a balance between the familiar and the unfamiliar.

Q. What makes UAE such a fashionable country?
A. The UAE has always been extremely fashion-conscious. Plus, newer styles and emerging design concepts have made the place quite the fashion hub.

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