Portrait by Unskilled Worker
There are too few personalities in fashion that bring that gorgeous old school chic to style nowadays, but British-Iraqi designer Walid Damirji is one of them. While others may strive for maximum exposure and the fast burn of celebrity, Walid – with his characteristic hand-worked ‘By Walid’ label and one-of-a-kind ethos knows every one of his ‘looks’ and can talk about items of his clothing like old friends. These are, if you like, anonymous heirlooms from history, modernised and reinterpreted by Walid. Travelling the world, collecting materials like an anthropologist gathers evidence of wild and wonderful things, he assembles his medley of rococo silks, belle epoque passementerie, box upon box of Whitby jet, ancient cashmeres, workwear, school - boy twills, 1920s linens, frothing reams of lace, recycled furs, 18th century ecclesiastical embroideries and Chinoiserie Spanish shawls.
By Walid is not for the person who wants to remain anonymous. But then; what good fashion is? His signature is distinctive and it is beloved by men and women of fashion; what he calls affectionately his ‘movers and shakers’. Because what Walid has done is to recreate the bond that used to exist between a customer and a designer, dressmaker or tailor. It is the opposite of anonymity and it is completely modern and contemporary because not only is the relationship between maker and customer implicitly; he is, quite simply, in the vanguard of responsible fashion. In a time when disposable seasonal fashions ask to be replaced every few months, Walid’s one of a kind separates improve with age – the provenance of their cloth is prepared to absorb a new story. These are clothes that speak of craft, of history and of quality. It is the kind of luxury that sometimes money cannot buy.
Author, Fashion Historian, and Pathway Leader BA Fashion Journalism Central Saint Martins