Kuwaiti DJ, music producer, and visual artist Fatima Al Qadiri enters new territories by adding campaign star to her growing list of accolades. Based in Berlin, Al Qadiri was tapped to front the Spring 2017 Acne Studios campaign, alongside a diverse lineup of creative female talents from the Middle East. Lensed by renowned Italian photographer Paolo Roversi, the images feature Polaroid-like portraits blown up to oversized proportions.
“The most exciting part is being shot by Paolo Roversi,” Al Qadiri tells Vogue Arabia. “I’ve been a fan of his since I was a teenager. His works for different fashion houses from the 1990s were plastered all over my bedroom walls. He’s legendary, and being shot by him is definitely a major accomplishment in my life.”
Roversi is one of the early adopters of Polaroid and applied the technique to the Swedish brand’s campaign. “I was just so fascinated by the laborious process,” Al Qadiri says. “He refashioned part of an early 20th-century accordion camera to become a Polaroid. They used the first image he shot, which is cool because it was my favorite.”
Al Qadiri brings a raw edge to the campaign with her androgynous allure. Her style is a fusion of sporty mixed with a masculine edge. “Growing up in Kuwait, there was an obsession with femininity, which I found really suffocating. I believe that’s what drew me to menswear,” she says. Her wardrobe is filled with sleek suits, handsome blazers and crisp shirts, with her go-to brands including Hood By Air and Telfar. Pride of place are archival pieces from Maison Margiela and Yohji Yamamoto that date back to the early 2000s.
She credits her mother – internationally acclaimed Kuwaiti artist and writer Thuraya Al-Baqsami – as being a major influence in her life. “I’m extremely fortunate to have an art-loving and ultra-liberal mother,” she says. “She’s been super supportive since day one. She never restricted or censored us.” Since the age of nine, Al Qadiri had her mind set on becoming a composer. “I was obsessed and on a mission. I played the keyboard every single day and recorded on cassettes. I wasn’t going to have anything get in my way,” she says with a laugh.
Although Al Qadiri has a background in linguistics from New York University, she took up music courses throughout college. “I started learning how to produce on the computer, which changed everything. It took me a long time to figure out how to transition from analogue to digital production,” Al Qadiri says. “I still found it counterintuitive, it’s not as immediate as playing an instrument, but it really helped me. It’s the closest thing to translating the musical ideas in my head into something that other people could hear.”
She has two solo albums under her belt, titled Brute and Asiatisch, a third one in the works, and is also a member of producer supergroup Future Brown. She’s also made a number of EPs, including Desert Strike,Specific-Xperience, and Warn-U. She was also commissioned by Chanel and i-D to produce a song with Chinese singerLi Yuchun inspired by the French brand’s perfume N°5 L’Eau.
Al Qadiri describes her music as anti-genre. “Genre doesn’t appeal to me at all,” she says. “It feels so narrow and confined. The one thing that binds my music together is that it’s electronic and has some digital manipulation.” She attributes folk music from her native Kuwait as a source of inspiration. “Although you can’t really hear it very clearly in my music, it plays a big part,” she says. “The melodies in folk music from Kuwait and the Gulf are a combination of Iranian, Indian, and Horn of Africa rhythms.”
While being handpicked for the Acne Studios campaign wasn’t something she anticipated, she says she’s grateful to be cast as a powerful Middle Eastern woman. “I hope to be a role model for girls in Kuwait and also around the world,” Al Qadiri says.