Hala Kamil, Syrian Refugee and Subject of Oscar-Nominated Documentary, 'Watani: My Homeland', Wears Custom Brandon Maxwell After a Social Media Assist

The documentary subject finally found a designer to dress her after her hunt for the perfect dress went viral on Twitter

Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Of course, the dress any celebrity wears to the Academy Awards is a pretty monumental decision. But most first-time attendees have the luxury of already being on the A-list and thus have access to a long list of the best couture designers in the world. Hala Kamil, however, is not your typical film star. In fact, she’s a Syrian refugee, mother of four, and the focus of the Oscar-nominated documentary short film, Watani: My Homeland.

Thankfully, through the power of social media she got connected with Lady Gaga’s BFF and former FLOTUS favorite Brandon Maxwell who came to the rescue, creating a completely original look for Kamil right before her big red carpet moment.

Before attending the ceremony, Kamil faced a number of sartorial challenges. First was the time crunch: While many nominees can plan out their full look months in advance, the documentary subject’s attendance was in jeopardy as a result of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, so she did not know whether she’d be on the red carpet when the time came. She also isn’t a sample size, which as actresses like Leslie Jones and Danielle Brooks have proven, isn’t nearly as easy to accommodate as one would hope given that most of the gowns that hit the red carpet come straight off the runway. And finally, she couldn’t find any dresses that would meet with her strict standards of modesty.

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Lucky for Kamil, Brandon Maxwell reached out to design her a dress after director Chris Temple tweeted about her struggle to find an appropriate outfit. Of the original creation he whipped up for Kamil, Maxwell said on Instagram, “To me, every woman is a star and every star has a story. 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.”

He added, “The goal for my collection is always to empower all women and to not just make them look beautiful, but feel beautiful as well. Hala’s strength and courage throughout her experiences is supremely admirable. 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. I hope she is having the time of her life.”

Stylist Jamie Mizrahi shared her own sweet snap with Hala, saying working with her was “such an honor.”

What do you think of the documentary star’s first red carpet ensemble?

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