A recent spread in Dash, a London-based illustrated magazine on fashion and fashion art, took me back to Rad Hourani’s January 2013 couture show. The unisex couture collection, the first of its kind according to the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, was lovely. There were clean, even architectural lines, perfectly-executed layers, tailored outerwear, nods to both masculinity and femininity, and a color palette of exclusively black and white, which made for a well received collection. (Not surprisingly, as Hourani, now 31, has been guided by the best. One example: President and CEO of Christian Dior, Sidney Toledano, took Hourani under his wing).
Also in the mix for Spring 2013 couture were black masks (which seem to have been influenced by Raf Simons’s Fall/Winter 1999 collection), an element that also made its way from the runway to the Dash editorial. While masks, headdresses and other controversial accessories tend to be given more leniency on the runway, with the exception being the nationally televised Victoria’s Secret runway show (where a headdressed Karlie Kloss was the source of quite a bit of controversy in 2012), when they transition to the pages of magazines, all bets are off.
Little mention was made of Jourdan-born, Paris-based Hourani’s decision to outfit his models with black masks for his show (he switched to silver masks for this year’s couture collection), but I’m not so sure the media will be as kind this time around, as blackface editorials are routinely met with a lot of resistance and rightfully so. Those familiar with Hourani and his work know that he bases his entire aesthetic on the concept of unisex (as opposed to “androgyny”) and the erasing of any limitations posed by “religion, age, gender differentiation, and nations,” and thus, the masks are certainly more of a representation of that than any form of race-related agenda. Either way, they are likely to cause controversy. What do you think?