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Bella Hadid shows Palestine solidarity with keffiyeh dress in Cannes

In a bold celebration of her heritage, the Palestinian-American supermodel wore a dress in the style of the iconic chequered scarf
Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid wearing a keffiyeh dress by US-based design duo Michael and Hushi (Screengrab/X)

The Cannes Film Festival may claim to shy away from politics, but attendees this year have demonstrated, once again, the intricate connection between the world of fashion and politics.

First, there was Cate Blanchett’s rumoured ode to Palestinians, where the Oscar-winning actress lifted her floor-length black-and-pale pink gown, revealing a deep green silk lining that contrasted against the red carpet, appearing to reference the colours of the Palestinian flag when photographed.

Then, supermodel Bella Hadid strolled the streets of the Mediterranean city on Thursday decked out in a red and white keffiyeh dress while out for ice cream.

The keffiyeh is a traditional chequered headdress worn by Arab men across the region and often varies in colours and stitchings depending on its city of origin. It has long been synonymous with the Palestinian cause and has even been described as the unofficial Palestinian flag.

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A bold celebration of Hadid's Palestinian heritage, the dress appeared to be a statement of solidarity and comes as Israel continues its military assault on the Gaza Strip, which has left over 35,000 Palestinians dead, the vast majority women and children.

The spaghetti-strapped dress is an archival 2001 design by US-based design duo Michael and Hushi, who also created a black and white keffiyeh halter top worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in an episode of the hit show Sex and the City.


A post shared by Hushidar Mortezaie (@hushi5)

The midi-length dress was introduced as part of their first fashion show, which featured imagery from Iran - where designer Hushi Mortezai was born - intertwined with what the designer described as Palestinian scarves. 

The dress is made from a number of overlapping red and white keffiyeh scarves with an asymmetrical hemline and ruffled detail and finished with tassels along the edges.

While the red and white print is traditionally worn by Jordanian bedouins, the chequered scarf can be worn in different colours and has been adopted by many to display their support for Palestinians amid Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.

In an Instagram post, designer Hushi explained: “This dress was made 23 years ago and everyone from the region was grouped as one big 'other'. There was no Google. Only what could be put together with little resources. Hopefully, we can all learn to stand in unity and love against genocide.”

Sharing Hushi’s post to her story on Instagram, Hadid confirmed the political sentiment with the message: “Free Palestine forever."

Hadid has spoken out in support of Palestine for years but has been particularly vocal over the past few months as the destruction and death toll in Gaza has dominated headlines.

In a statement in late October, Hadid said on Instagram that she had been dealing with many threats but was not afraid.

“My heart is bleeding with the pain from the trauma I am seeing unfold, as well as the generational trauma of my Palestinian blood.”

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