The elusive concept of Egyptian identity has occupied the minds of many Egyptian artists.
Mahmoud Mokhtar sought it out in Nahdet Masr while others have explored identity in cinema, such as Shady Abdel Salam in his dream-like masterpiece, The Night of Counting the Years.
Gozoor (roots in Arabic) is a newly-established Egyptian company that explores Egyptian culture and identity through clothes and fashion. The project started four years ago when film director and Gozoor founder Mohamed Nassar was making a documentary about what he calls “the chaos of clothes” in Egypt.
“I was exploring Egyptian loss of identity and marginalisation but the information accumulated and evolved into Gozoor,” he said.
The company has four components: a fashion school, a fashion show, documentary films, and media services.
“The fashion show’s purpose is to bring Egyptian designers to the forefront that focus on Egyptian identity and heritage,” Nassar said.
Gozoor believes that the starting point of any society is to know itself, and therefore the company wishes to evaluate and define Egyptian public tastes.
Gozoor is organising a fashion week to take place outside Egypt as a promotion of Egyptian culture.
“Dress is one way culture is expressed. For example, you have two extremes in Egypt such asNiqab and veil and then what we call Shakira’s veil, a fusion of western and Wahhabi. This juxtaposition speaks of a nation whose culture cannot be defined in one particular way. As of late, Egyptians have been focusing too much on Arab and Islamic identity but Egyptian is an identity in and of itself. You cannot take one part and leave the other,” said Nassar.
Nassar adds that there is currently almost no Egyptian fashion and there is no style of clothing that reflects the Egyptian culture. Gozoor also plans on exploring other Arab cultures in the Arab North of Africa. “There is much more diversity in places like Tunisia and Morocco than there is in the Arab peninsula so we have chosen to explore this region,” Nassar said.