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Costume Designer Maya Gowaily Draws Inspiration from Looted Mamluk Minbar in Leather Vest Design

The design is an ode to Egypt’s Mamluk history.

maya gowaily egypt

Within the larger framework of the 'New from Old' series launched by the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation, theatre and cinema costume designer Maya Gowaily mixed her passion for Egyptian history and her know-how with fashion design to create an entirely original vest piece that caught our eye. The piece was inspired by the Minbar of Amir Altinbugha al-Maridani, a remnant of the Mamluk dynasty in Islamic Cairo that was looted in 2007.

A minbar is a short flight of steps used by imams as a platform during sermons, and it's central to the integrity of Mamluk mosques. After 2011, Egypt saw a drastic increase in the number of looted monuments. This sparked the ‘Rescuing the Mamluk Minbars of Cairo’ project, which was awarded £99,713 by the British Council.

Using chocolate brown leather and laser cutting, Gowaily was able to recreate the Arabesque geometric patterns featured on the minbar. After the minbar was subjected to looting of its internal features, the patterns were left enunciated by the hollow void in its inside structure. These vacancies are the inspiration behind the drapé vest, which are used on the back on the vest as well as the collar, and embellished with laser engravings.

Having worked on distinguished Egyptian productions including The Blue Elephant, Hassan wa Marcus, and Ibrahim Labyad, Gowaily is a well established costume designer in the local film industry and holds an MA in Costume Design for Performance from the London College of Fashion.




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