Rad Hourani, the first Canadian to show on the official Parisian haute couture calendar (he will show his third couture collection in January), is being honored with a month-long retrospective at Montreal’s Phi Centre. The self-taught, unisex designer, who is 31, started as a stylist in Montreal, before packing his bags to study anatomy, and then launching his collection in 2007. Hourani describes his designs as "asexual aseasonal. They come from no place no time no tradition yet they could be home anywhere anytime." Of the exhibit, Hourani says: “What is important is to really show that I am not a designer, I am not a photographer, I am not an artist, I am not a videographer. I am all of that in one." Thus, the Phi exhibition, entitled "Rad Hourani Seamless," encompasses not just fashion, but photography, music and video.
Photography plays a large role. For instance, one room is wallpapered with photos the Hourani used to study the male and female anatomy and come up with a unisex pattern, as well as portraits and looks from his collections. Of his photos, Hourani says: “I never shot anything in colour. Black and white for me is really the yin and yang.” In addition, there is a pop-up shop with exclusive Hourani works, including special items Hourani created for the shop, and popular pieces from his archives that have been reissued. Also on sale: a selection of books from Hourani’s personal library.
An interactive jacket, outfitted with cameras, will be on display next to the pop-up shop. Also part of the month-long celebration: concerts by Pierre Lapointe and Chris Garneau, a closing concert by Jacques Greene, and the display of Hourani’s interactive jacket from the Tate Modern. According to the Phi's founder, Phoebe Greenber, Phi’s cinema will show “living portraits,’’ in which Hourani has filmed people wearing his clothes but “you get seduced by the personality.”
For those who cannot make it, fear not, because we will have coverage here. Also, the retrospective photographs have been published in a limited-edition book, "Rad Hourani: 5 Yrs of Unisex." The book also contains a conversation with Greenberg, and aphorisms — Radisms, if you will — like “Beauty is everywhere yet perfection is nowhere,’’ in all-caps reverse white-on-black type, a Hourani signature. Another saying: “Everything is an illusion.” And on art: “Art is a place where you can meet yourself first. Art is a form in which something can be expressed. Art is only interesting if I feel something right away. That’s the art I am interested in. That’s good art for me." And another: “Art is definitely an illusion.”