US label Brandon Maxwell provided a custom-made dress and hijab for Hala Kamil’s red carpet appearance.

US President Donald Trump’s visa ban almost prevented Hala Kamil from attending the Academy Awards this week.

The Syrian refugee, who is the subject of Oscar-nominated documentary Watani: My Homeland, was almost barred from entering the US after Trump blocked visas for nationals of seven MENA nations.

However with just weeks to spare, the executive order was overturned, and producers were able to book Kamil a flight to LA.

Yet the tight timeframe had created another problem – what to wear.


Why This Filmmaker Wore A Lebanese Designer To The Oscars
Iranian Filmmaker Wins Oscar, Protests Trump’s ‘Inhumane Law’

“Along with the quick turnaround, the fact that Kamil is a practicing Muslim and requires modest dressing made the search for a designer that much more difficult,” Hayley Pappas, a representative for the short film, told Refinery29.

“We needed a dress that would cover everything, along with a hijab she’d wear with it. And since she’s probably the only Syrian refugee woman on the red carpet, she wanted to wear something that sent a specific message.”

Friend and film director Chris Temple put a plea out on Twitter on Kamil’s behalf and soon enough, offers came flooding in.

Among those that got in touch was New York-based designer Brandon Maxwell, who’s dressed stars including Lady Gaga and Michelle Obama.

“His email was so nice and sincere, and we didn’t realise who he was until we Googled him,” Pappas told Refinery29. “‘Don’t worry, I have a team of girls who can make this happen,’ he said.”

Working with Kamil, who sent Maxwell colours and ideas, the two came up with the regal purple velvet and fishtailed number she wore on the night.

And while Watani – which charts Kamil’s escape from wartorn Syria with her family – didn’t come away with the Oscar, Kamil said working with Maxwell was “the sweetest experience of her life”, according to Pappas.

This Middle Eastern Blogger Just Slayed The Dolce & Gabbana Runway
Our 12 Favourite Looks From London’s Modest Fashion Week

The designer also shared a heartwarming message on his Instagram page as the mum-of-four, who is now based in Germany, walked the red carpet.

“Hala’s story sincerely touched me and I am truly honoured that I had the privilege to create this look for her celebrating this momentous occasion,” wrote Maxwell, adding that the rich hue was designed to represent the colour of her favourite flower.

“Seeing her walk the red carpet full of confidence and elegance, and being a small part of her special night means the world to me.

“She used to stay up with her husband every year and watch the Oscars from her home in Aleppo, which has now been destroyed, and tonight she walks the carpet.”

– For more about Dubai’s lifestyle, news and fashion scene straight to your newsfeed, follow us on Facebook

Image: Getty