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The Story of Bella Hadid’s Keffiyeh Dress at Cannes

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Photo: Arnold Jerocki//GC Images

Can you make a statement at Cannes? Bella Hadid says “duh.” The supermodel was photographed at the Cannes Film Festival in a red Palestinian “keffiyeh” dress (it appears to technically be a shemagh, but the two have essentially become interchangeable) made by designers Michael Sears and Hushi Mortezaie of the label Michael and Hushi. The dress, which originally debuted on the runway in 2001, is beautifully made with tassels lining the bust and ruffles of fabric overlapping at the hem.

While Hadid, who is Palestinian, has been a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights for years, she’s been particularly visible and outspoken these past few months as the destruction and death toll in Gaza continues to devastate. Mohamed Hadid, her father, once called her “My youngest daughter Princess Of Nazareth the Great, great granddaughter of the ruler of Palestine in the 1700 Daher Al Omer and his sons that ruled Tabarias, Safad, Nazareth, Khalil, Haifa and the rest of the land of Galilee.” The internet has taken this and run with it, nicknaming her Princess of Nazareth.

Photo: Arnold Jerocki//GC Images

When Michael and Hushi debuted the dress in February 2001 in a collection of clothing inspired by Iranian, and some Palestinian, iconography, it was featured in an article in WWD titled “The Guns and Ammo Club.” The report featured pieces from other designers who presented garments with phrases like “the right to bear arms” and shirts with sketches of the Unabomber on them. Hmmm, one thing here (a frilly dress printed with a traditional Middle Eastern print) is not like the others. The first line of the piece reads, “Please don’t kill the messenger, but fall fashion is getting deadly.” Yikes. 

Mortezaie, who was inspired by visiting his homeland of Iran for the first time since immigrating to the U.S. at age 3, told WWD that “I think everyone has a different interpretation of what we’re designing, but our message is something about power and beauty.” Another skirt from the brand was featured in a British Vogue article at the time headlined “Generation Terrorists.” Okay … double yikes. It’s all giving racism to me.

Michael and Hushi used to have a store in the East Village (120 E. 7th Street), which became a cult favorite among the downtown crowd at the time. Fun fact: The same designers apparently made Carrie Bradshaw’s keffiyeh halter top from Sex and the City. This checks out considering famed SATC stylist and costume designer Patricia Field has carried their work in her vintage store and gallery.

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