Hala Kamil, the subject of ‘Watani: My Homeland,’ is seeking a red-carpet gown that doesn’t “feel like something that’s too stereotypical or could be interpreted as too extremist. She just wants something really chic and elegant that makes her feel beautiful.”
Crowdsourcing red-carpet-ready gowns for award shows via Twitter is officially a thing.
Last August, actress Leslie Jones tweeted that she was having a difficult time finding a designer gown to wear to the summer premiere of Ghostbusters, but luckily, Christian Siriano came to the rescue. The designer was able to whip up a gorgeous red off-the-shoulder look for the actress in no time at all.
Now, Hala Kamil, the subject of the Oscar-nominated short documentary film Watani: My Homeland, is following suit. On Thursday, filmmaker Chris Temple tweeted on her behalf: “Urgent. Anyone know a designer in LA who can make a dress for Hala, a Syrian refugee? Her film was nominated for the Oscars this weekend!”
Urgent. Anyone know a designer in LA who can make a dress for Hala, a Syrian refugee? Her film was nominated for the Oscars this weekend!
— Chris Temple (@Christemple8) February 23, 2017
Kamil was in the news most recently after it was revealed that due to President Donald Trump's travel ban, she would not be able to enter the country. “The timing between the nomination and the ban were a matter of three days,” said Hayley Pappas, head of films at media company RYOT, which worked with the filmmakers. “Nominations came out on a Tuesday and the ban came out on that Friday, so since then we’ve been in quite a limbo.” However, since the ban was appealed, Kamil is back on schedule to make her Oscars debut.
“We had always thought that if we get nominated then absolutely, we want Hala to be here,” said Pappas. “Her flight is booked, she’s scheduled to arrive tomorrow pending any other orders that come between now and then.”
But now that the travel issues have been resolved the omnipresent “What to wear?” issue has officially surfaced. “We’ve had a bit of a styling snafu, so now we’re in crisis mode, scrambling to find the perfect dress for her,” explained Pappas.
Finding that perfect dress is a bit complicated, however, and not just because of the three-day time limit. “A lot of people have reached out, but we’re dealing with pretty specific parameters here,” said Pappas. “It needs to be a modest dress that will accommodate a hijab, and she’s a mother of four, so she’s not a sample size. So that's one of the reasons we’re struggling to find a fast turnaround.”
She added, “Frankly, I think she — being the only Syrian refugee woman on the red carpet — is really conscientious about the message she wants the dress to send. She doesn’t want it to feel like something that’s too stereotypical or could be interpreted as too extremist. She just wants something really chic and elegant that makes her feel beautiful.”
Watani: My Homeland follows Kamil and her four children over three years as they struggle to escape from war-torn Aleppo to start a new life in Germany. Kamil will walk the red carpet alongside director Marcel Mettelsiefen and producer Stephen Ellis.
So far, a few designers have volunteered to outfit Kamil, many of them working around an inspirational photo that Kamil herself found on Instagram featuring a woman in a black and gold brocade jacket with a gold hijab (below). Though her dress has yet to be found, Kamil already has a makeup appointment booked through The Glam App — so at least one hurdle of red-carpet glam has already been cleared.
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