From Wedding Gowns to Hijabs: Gizelle Begler Changes the Fashion Scene for the Hijabi Community

A candid conversation with FSAD alum Gizelle Begler ’08 about establishing her namesake couture label, destigmatizing the hijab, and utilizing fashion as a vehicle for social change. 

 

Editor’s Note: Gizelle graduated from the Department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design in 2008, where she explored her passion for her Egyption-American culture through design, interned with Tommy Hilfiger and Giorgio Armani and was the first Cornell student to win the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund award. Upon graduating, she was immediately recruited to lead the design team at formalwear boutique Sugar Plum NY, subsequently moving to Kuwait and designing couture for the Kuwaiti Royal family. One year later, she moved to Egypt and founded her fledgling company Gizelle Couture, an evening wear label dedicated to offering Middle Eastern women the gown of their dreams. As Gizelle Couture became a premier name in evening and bridal wear across the globe, she made splashing headlines in such publications as Enigma and Marry Me, Egypt’s #1 fashion magazine and wedding guide respectively. 

 

How did your time in Kuwait and Egypt influence your vision as an artist and entrepreneur and spark an idea for your own business? 

Before I went to Egypt, I was in the city working as a little girl’s dress designer, and my race and religion never had much to do with my work. I was so obsessed with avant garde and couture, and it wasn’t until I went to the Middle East that I realized I still needed to consider the needs of the community. They love fashion and dress but living in Muslim countries, there is no store or global business that creates really nice things for the modern woman.

A Short Guide to Educational Creative Works Concerning Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racism

Compiled and written by Livia Caligor

 As Toni Morrison shared with The Guardian in 1992, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” In a riveting dialogue on the implications of the African-American identity, she begs her readers to question what it means to be hyphenated, how it feels to be considered American by law but a second-class category of citizens by practice. What does this exactly mean for people of color in this country, especially Black and indigenous people of color? To be an African-American, an Asian-American, a Latinx-American person in this country denotes something very different from being just an American. All of us “Americans” were born or naturalized in the United States, yet non-white individuals are still considered to be half an American, their rights compromised and exploited for the benefit of white communities.

LOVE & SQUALOR | 5 Must-See Pieces at the Johnson This Semester

Founded in 1973 in memory of benefactor and Cornell Trustee Herbert F. Johnson (Class of 1922), the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is home to over 35,000 permanent works of art. Its diverse collections span six millennia and a wide spectrum of cultural origins. Because of the university’s Land Grant status, the Johnson offers exhibitions, programs, and events for all without charge, seeking to “serve the students of Cornell, present and future, … enabling them to add broader dimension to their lives no matter what their field of study may be” (Johnson, 1973). The wide range of permanent collections and rotation of new exhibitions, trafficking over 80,000 visitors each year, might be overwhelming, but I narrowed down some of my favorites from their newest exhibit How the Light Gets In. On view from September 7th to December 8th, the exhibit addresses issues of immigration, mobility, displacement, and exile through an expansive collection from 58 artists and collective groups.

WITH LOVE & SQUALOR | Zac Posen Shutters His Business: What Does This Mean For The Fashion And Retail Industry?

We all remember the moment at the 2016 Met Gala when the lights dimmed, red carpet chatter silenced into hushed gasps, and heads turned to see Claire Danes step out in a ball gown that shined brighter than the explosion of camera flashes that quickly ensued. The whimsical piece constructed out of sheer organza and fiber optics was the fashion moment of the year — the LED gown fused other-wordly glamour with contemporary polish, a timeless silhouette with cutting-edge technology, and could only have been a creation of the legendary Zac Posen. I was immediately infatuated with his ceaseless passion for experimentation and

innovation — each custom gown jaw-dropping in a new way — paired with his unwavering vision as an artist, each piece unmistakably his. Zac Posen became my idol that night. I saw everything I aspired to be in him — not only his early entrepreneurial spirit or his comedic persona as a Project Runway judge, but also, above all else, his devotion to cultivating his own artistic vision in an industry saturated with redundancy. So, last Friday, November 1st, Zac Posen shook the fashion industry when he announced that he was closing the shutters of his eponymous label.

Livia Caligor | Silver Gelatin Prints

WITH LOVE & SQUALOR | The 6 Train

Last spring, I took the 6 train from the periphery of Spanish Harlem to my office in Soho every day. I remember the way I’d limp up the hill at the cross section of 110th Street, peering into the backlit shadow of the subway stop at the end of the street, blasting Bowie classics to cancel out the whisper of catcalls around me. My blouse clung to the small of my back as I entered the station, which was already cramped and humid before dawn. I embarked the vehicle each morning with a leather knapsack, a ziploc bag of grapes for the road, and a pair of kitten heels I’d change into at my second to last stop. 

Passengers would come and go as the subway raced and paused between stops. Ninety-sixth. Seventy-seventh.