art and design

art, costume and set design


working on the film Theeb

Posted by jamilaaladdin on February 21, 2017 at 4:10 AM



Working on designing the costumes for the  feature film Theeb had certainly been my biggest achievement, I did only one historical Bedouin themed production TV series  before, and I always found the local traditional Bedouin productions shown on TV lacking in spirit, and identity  where costumes are concerned, and was put off watching them due to the lack of authenticity in costumes.

Upon starting work on the costumes for Theeb, I felt a great sense of awe and a great responsibility and was scared of the ordeal of being able to be true to this heritage, that I always took so seriously. I wanted to share with the world the vision I had  of how Bedouin clothing were supposed to appear on the screen. This was beyond designing, this was being able to reproduce clothing that looked authentic and had the smell and soul of the desert, it had on it the sweat of horseback riding, the pride of the bedouins, and the  frayed edges of time, it had to look like its owner had actually been living in the desert all his life; In fact these costumes had to look like they were not designed and made by a designer. These costumes had to be made the same way they were made a hundred years ago.


I wanted to make costumes that would make me feel proud for years to come, It was a very ambitious prospect, but when you set a goal for yourself and fall in love with what you do, you should be able to achieve that. It had to look like it was the Bedouin/Actor's own clothing that he wore day to day. It had to reflect history and heritage, and most importantly it had to tell the story of the costume, and render the character of its wearer. I began by researching, vintage clothing, vintage photos, old books,  archives in libraries, I even interviewed old men and women in remote villages, who remembered distinctly how things were done, and what people wore,  how they lived, their social and psychological affair; I began to have such fun, that I fell in love with this beautiful project. It was no more about the movie, suddenly for me it was about the costumes. I was then lucky enough to find a 90 years old seamstress who tailored the clothing for her whole village, men and women, and she showed me how everything was made and finished.


What remained to be done was finding a way to reproduce the feel  and textures of the old fabrics, buttons, threads and other natural stuff, which had long disappeared from the shops, so I had to use raw cotton fabrics and threads, and natural materials, and even  the dyes used at the time to create the shades of beige,  brown, dark blue and other natural and subdued colours used then. I also had to get materials and goat's wool  to use in hand sewing and finishing, and to wind the cotton ropes to form head bands (iqal). Using natural fibres and material was the only way to get the textures right.


Finding a team to do the job who were dedicated and would work twenty four hours a day if need be was easy, I already had a team formed over the thirty years of doing costumes for movies and TV productions, we had a long beautiful relationship that exceded the frame of work, we became friends and family and always worked together, we understood each other and loved each other and the work we did.


It all went so smoothly from then on, The love everyone who worked with me felt for these handmade with love costumes and the handmade accents needed as accessories was immense and it showed on the screen, Everyone commented and asked about the costumes, and how they were made,


I felt so proud, I felt  like I have  finally  fulfilled my dream,  the one dream I had sinse I started working as a costume designer more than thirty years ago;, that one day I will be making costumes for the screen that would be so perfect, they would fill me  the pride and a sense of achievement and contentment that  would last me a lifetime.

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1 Comment

Reply WesleywrodA
7:03 AM on July 31, 2018