A tale of two halves

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London menswear brand Qasimi is a bundle of contradictions, with classic tailoring sitting alongside edgier pieces, says Lee Holmes

The menswear designer Khalid Al Qasimi was born in the United Arab Emirates in 1980 and emigrated to the UK at the age of nine. Now heading up his own eponymous label, he trained at Central Saint Martins, where his fellow alumni include Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.

Qasimi founded his label in 2009 with contradiction and juxtaposition in mind. His collections summon to mind the old adage "opposites attract", inspired by a fusion of subjects such as art, religion and architecture, all thrown together in his quirky and individual sartorial mix.

Even the location of the brand fits in with the ethos of antithesis: the studio and the hard graft of producing the garments takes place in deepest, darkest east London, while the luxuriously finished garments are showcased at the menswear collections in Paris. Très chic.

The autumn 2012 collection is a stimulating blend of tailoring and casualwear. Suits stand alongside leather jackets, rubber-printed T-shirts and organza checked shirts. These fabrics – the durability of rubber and the gossamer qualities of organza – again highlight the opposing qualities in the clothing, and there's also a nod to our military history with classic overcoats and greatcoats. Floral prints add a softer side, while a strong colour palette of reds and black dominate. The juxtaposition at the heart of the collection is clear to see.

That said, there is one weak point: floor-length skirts in scarlet and black are likely to make most men blanch. The appeal of these is limited. But with London menswear designers JW Anderson and James Long making the leap into women's clothing, perhaps that too is a route that Qasimi may take in the future.

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