1. WatchCut Video just released the latest in their 100 Years of Beauty series, and this time, they’re taking on Egypt.
Research for this video was done by researcher Jacinthe Assaad. The looks she and WatchCut Video put together represent various political struggles in each decade.
4. For the look of the —30s, WatchCut re-created the beginning of the golden age of Egyptian cinema, during which women were beautifully adorned.
“This look was inspired by Umm Kulthum, who is known as the star of the Middle East. She was the most prominent Egyptian singer. She used to hold a handkerchief and express her emotions deeply as she sang,” Assaad explained.
6. Doria Shafik, a philosopher, poet, and leader of the Egyptian feminist movement, was the inspiration for the hair and makeup in the ’50s.
“Because of her activism and efforts, women were granted the right to vote by the Egyptian constitution,” Assaad explained.
7. For the ’60s, WatchCut was inspired by an image of a factory worker.
“There was a focus on local economy and local manufacturing. It was also a moment in history where Egypt was liberated from the colonial power, from being a British protectorate. Therefore, there was this idea of adopting particular Western choices, but making them much more conservative to adapt them to local customs and norms,” she explained.
9. In the 1980s, there was an acceptance of the Western norms of beauty in the fashion world.
“There was a lot of social dissent against the Open Door policy of President Anwar Sadat. One reason was that he was very Westernized and he allowed a lot of Western norms to infiltrate society. Religiously minded people chose to migrate to the gulf,” she explained.
10. The 1990s look was inspired by Sherihan, a famous Egyptian actress and singer who used to wear over-the-top, glittery, sequined dresses and gowns.
“People started coming back from the gulfs, especially after the first Iraqi War, and with them they brought the much more conservative customs. Sherihan was affected by the religious wave of the ’90s.”
11. “The beginning of the 21st century in Egypt represents the ways in which the Egyptians are trying to reconcile their conservative aspects with the modern aspect.”
“The sartorial choices are representative of this moment. For instance, a lot of the veiled women wanted to wear sleeveless tops, tops that had cleavage, and in order to be able to do so, they would wear long-sleeved tops underneath them. That paired with the conservative minds created the very interesting hybrid fashion.”
12. The 2011 Revolution started the present decade, and WatchCut combined elements born out of the revolution to create the look for the 2010s.
“One of them is the symbol of the flag that women used to wear as a headband during the protests. During the revolution, the youth fought for the right to be heard, and the right to be heard is embodied in the right to vote in an election that we hope is not corrupt.”
13. In the below video, Research Behind The Looks: Egypt, Assaad explains why WatchCut chose to include the veil in this video.
She explained, “We are conscious that the veil opens up a very controversial debate. While we’re not trying to resolve the debate, we want people to be quite aware that the veil means different things to the West and the East. The West chose the veil as a symbol of the oppression of Muslim and Arab women. One of the arguments is that the veil represents the entry of the women into the public sphere. It is what allows them to be political beings. All of our standards of beauty and anything that is remotely related to aesthetics, in terms of art and beauty, is linked incestuously to politics.”
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