Jordan-born, Paris-based Rad Hourani, who spent a bit of his youth living in Canada, has made quite a name for himself in the fashion industry. In 2005, Hourani moved to Paris, where he spent a year creating his unisex pattern and showed his collection at an art gallery in the 3rd arrondissement in October 2007. He has since been invited into the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, and his first Couture collection, the first unisex Couture show in history, debuted last January in Paris to great acclaim. In case that's not enough, Hourani stocks his Ready-to-Wear collection in 130 stores across 30 countries. We caught up with the young designer (he's 31), who talked about doubting everything, why he shows in New York, perfection and more ...
The Fashion Law - I really like the story of how you got started.
Rad Hourani - Well, I didn’t study fashion. I didn’t study how to make clothing. I moved to Paris in 2005, to do styling. From the on, I erased all of the past in my head, and all of the ways I had been conditioned as a human—how I understood men’s dressing codes, women’s dressing codes, religion, whatever. I started my own way of thinking, by observing what was going on around me, from traveling, from meeting people, from experience.
I think it’s very important to doubt everything you believe in. You can believe in something, and see a beauty in something, and someone else will never see that beauty. What’s important is to doubt everything, and question everything. Not in a destructive way—it’s not a negative thing, but a positive thing.
And I really found myself and my own style. It doesn’t make sense to me that a women can wear a dress, but not a man—or a man can wear a tie, but not a woman. This is exactly the way I see the world. I don’t need to follow what others tell me, but I can adopt what makes sense to me, in my life. You don’t need to follow what I do, but take what makes sense to you and adopt it to yours.
The Fashion Law - So, that's what your try to portray with your collections?
Rad Hourani - I think the most important thing in life is to have a signature. I’m not interested in doing something where you can say, “It’s so American” or “It’s so Middle Eastern”—or even, “I see the ‘60s” or “I see the ’70s.” I’m not interested in any nationalism or culturalism—it comes, again, from the no-background background. What I’m interested in is a new world of today and tomorrow. It has no nationality. It has one world and one vision—no gender, no seasons, no trends.
The Fashion Law - You have a Ready-to-Wear and a couture collection now. Tell us a bit about them.
Rad Hourani - Rad Hourani is now the official haute couture line and RAD by Rad Hourani is the ready-to-wear line, and I think both of them complete each other in a way. First of all, everything I create, I create what I feel like wearing, so I feel all of my collection is basically made for myself.
I am the only designer. I completely design everything from A to Z, with no exception. It’s not an assistant that draws it for me and puts it out there. I think it’s important to understand that my creations come from how I feel about something. My hand will draw something that I am feeling on my body at the same time. For example, if I think of a shape, when I draw it I think of myself wearing it right away, and it’s almost like the pencil is moving on the paper but the paper is my body in a way.
Most of my designs are symmetrical and they are very graphic, 90 degree angles, very rectangular. I’m not attracted to round shapes or shapes that make the body look short. I like shapes that can be adapted to any kind of style. Since the beginning I took a year to understand a mans body and womens body. My designs have always been unisex and unisex design means each garment can be worn on men or women.
The Fashion Law - And your collections are pretty season-less, which is noteworthy.
Rad Hourani - I think we are conditioned to think that what I do by not having seasons, time, gender is not traditional for a start. So I would say that its not traditional in that sense if you want to use these words… I avoid all stereotypes in my life. I don’t use theses words, traditional, trends etc. What drives me is to create a signature piece of work and a garment that can be worn by anyone at anytime.
The Fashion Law - Do you anticipate more designers doing unisex collections?
Rad Hourani - I’m sure that it could be an influence, as it gets worse the consumers will need to adapt themselves. I was the first one to do that, and the first to design a high end unisex line, I did it because it made sense to me and hopefully the whole world understand one day the exact massage.
The Fashion Law - Aside from the obvious (unisex, etc.), how do you think you're different from other designers?
Rad Hourani - I believe that using what I would like to wear as a starting point to the design process is the most truthful and straightforward approach. It allows me to stay focused on my aesthetic statement and also assess my commitment to wearability, functionality, and comfort. I don't need to be the one who makes the boldest statement every season, I'd much rather commit to my personal aesthetics and that of the people who like to wear my clothes. I feel it would be an error to saturate the market too quickly, and rush to complete orders anywhere I can. I wanted to secure a solid manufacturing structure to ensure quality, and to be sold only in the right places. I want my clothes to be rare and perfect, I guess..
The Fashion Law - After high school, you worked for a model scout in Montreal, and so, its not terribly surprising that casting of your shows is always so great! How involved in it are you?
Rad Hourani - I really enjoy working with my casting director Wayne Sterling, because we are always looking for a new, fresh, modern line up that fits perfectly with the collection. We're not interested in an only big model names line up, it's "passe" I think. It's great to work with new fresh awake models that are full of energy and love what they do, we're tired of tired models, they should work in another industry.
The Fashion Law - You're based in Paris. How do you think its different than New York?
Rad Hourani - New Yorkers have that mentality of taking something forward and making it big, making it really powerful. That’s what I love about New York—how people will always come together and be excited about new things, and always want to build and move forward. And that’s why every time I leave, I’m exhausted. You really empty everything into it.
In Paris, it’s a different way of doing things. People like to take their time. Paris is much older than New York, and there is so much more—I wouldn’t say culture, but history. People like to make things, but they like to take their time, for a long time.
The Fashion Law - And you show your RTW collections in New York.
Rad Hourani - I can’t live without the way New York does things; I can’t live without the way Paris does things. So creating here and exhibiting there makes sense to me.
The Fashion Law - Your Montreal exhibition, RAD HOURANI: SEAMLESS 5 YRS OF UNISEX, focused quite a bit on your study of the body.
Rad Hourani - For me, my study was mostly about a study the body in terms of a physical comfort more than in an aesthetic way. Its not about beauty necessarily. Its more about physical comfort and physical movemen. When people wear my clothes, they say 'I feel protected. I feel powerful. I feel comfortable. I feel confident and timeless.'
The Fashion Law - What are you obsessed with?
Rad Hourani - Perfection. I'm a perfectionist and I think that fashion makes me feel that perfection can maybe one day exist.