In this thesis, Hala embarks on a journey to discover the Kafiye of today. Starting from the assumption that the Kafiye (the traditional Arab headscarf) is the strongest symbol to come out of the Arab world, she uncovers the elements that have made it what it is today. By touching on issues like identity and appropriation, she makes a powerful discovery filled with original research and never before exposed findings.

“al-Kafiye: A Potent Symbol Uncovered” traces back the origins and narrates the path of a design that is synonymous with one of the foremost global political issues, the Palestinian dilemma, and yet has managed to infiltrate high fashion and street wear all around the globe. Arab at its core, the Kafiye manages to be a multitude of things at the same time—traditional, ethnic, practical, stylish, trendy, scary, and revolutionary. Adopted by various fashion designers, commercialized and cheaply produced in China, one would expect the Kafiye of today to have lost any meaning or depth. That is far from the case, as this extraordinary item is still reinventing itself.

Keeping the power of this symbol alive depends on the spread of information and the expansion of discourse. Through a process of analysis and understanding, the story of the Kafiye is uncovered from Ancient Mesopotamia until contemporary times through a novel study of design, identity and material culture.
The School of Visual Arts MFA Design Criticism Department presented “Crossing the Line: The 2010 D-Crit Conference" organized by graduating D-Crit students at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Friday, April 30 2010.

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