The 91st Academy Awards ceremony last night (February 24) was full of many surprises, starting from the show being host-free for the first time in 30 years all the way to a record-setting seven of our thespian brothers and sisters of the POC family getting acknowledged at the biggest rate in Oscars history.
While we surely give major props to “Best Supporting Actress” winner Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk), the big Black Panther wins of the night (Ruth E. Carter for “Best Costume Design”; Hannah Beachler for “Best Achievement in Production Design”), Peter Ramsey’s gold-grabbing win for our favorite Afro-Latino superhero (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for “Best Animated Feature Film”) and our man Spike Lee finally getting his proper dues alongside screenwriter Kevin Willmott for BlacKkKlansman (“Best Adapted Screenplay”), the real hat-tipping honor goes to none other than Mahershala Ali.
Accepting his second “Best Supporting Actor” win in a span of three years for his role as Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book — the somewhat-controversial 2018 bio film that also won “Best Picture” — Ali made his way to the stage in what was first thought to be a beanie cap. Streetwear heads cheered from all parts of the community, but his headwear is actually way more than a simple skully and holds bigger meaning to his overall religious background.
While many called it a beanie, and others argued that it was actually a Jinnah cap to represent his Islamic roots which he converted to in 2000, the headwear itself is a little bit of both. The hat is actually called the “Sharina,” made from rabbit fiber velour felt in three neutral colors by Florida-bred, NYC-based designer Gigi Burris. His stylist Van Van Alonso helped put the look together, telling Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive behind-the-scenes rundown of the ‘fit, “The Gigi Burris hat was a custom-made piece that was a last-minute thing. It’s a play on a Jinnah cap. He had been sending me a lot of photos of hats, some African looks, some Fez hats and we decided to something that was rounder on the top. It was one of those final ideas and we said let’s do it.”
His head-to-toe steez was pretty custom overall, including the paisley-printed black suit that everyone was talking about by Ermenegildo Zegna XXX, patent leather Louboutins, a classic Cartier timepiece, chromed-out aviator frames by Cutler and Gross and a vintage button to add to his grandad collar shirt that also paid homage to his identity as a Muslim man.
There were others that found his ‘fit, mainly the eyewear and hat combination, to be inspired by a fellow Oscars elite: the legendary Denzel Washington from his epic performance in the 1992 biopic Malcolm X. A scene from the film that got him nominated for a “Best Actor” Academy Award, which he lost that year to Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) but later won in 2001 for a groundbreaking role in Training Day, looked eerily familiar to Ali’s style last night. With Malcolm X also being a practicing Muslim during his lifetime, easily one of the biggest and most influential of all time actually, it’s not far off to see the similarities and how even the slightest influence was incorporated. Pretty fresh tribute if you ask us.
Overall, the looked was by far the best of the night — equal parts swaggy and sophisticated, with just enough custom flyness to set him apart from the other men rocking the classic black & white tuxedo dress code. For people of Islamic background, it was also a chance to feel seen and honor the Jinnah cap (also called a karakul/qaraqul) named after Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Anything that puts your culture on while also keeping it fresh from head-to-toe will always be good in our book. Congrats again, Mahershala!
You can shop the “Sharina” hat made famous by Mahershala Ali at the 2019 Oscars last night by heading to the Gigi Burris online shop right now, where it’s available for $350 USD in loden green, alabaster and black like we saw last night. See all three below: