Amid an environment where fashion tends toward a somewhat dusty ordinariness, Rad Hourani is the perpetual anti-conformist. Since the launch of his brand in 2007, the young fashion designer has been reinventing fashion by transcending and disrupting wardrobes. All his work is a reflection of his endlessly open-minded outlook, unlimited creativity, and preference for minimalist beauty. No doubt fate reserves him a radiant future.
The last two years have been quite amazing for you, your collections were highly acclaimed by the fashion industry, and last summer you did an impressive exhibition in Paris called Transclassic. How are you after being under the spotlight?
I’m great. I am always thankful for the energy that surrounds me, and of course for the people that wear my clothes and see themselves in the same world that I’m creating. It’s heaven.
Was fashion an obvious career goal for you as a child?
Fashion was never my goal; I always enjoyed aesthetics in general. I was born in 1982 in Jordan, and when I was a child, my mother would take me every week to her dressmaker so we could choose the fabrics and designs for her next outfit. And I started giving my opinions on it pretty early on. She was also dressing me the same way she was dressing my brother, but I didn’t want to wear anything like other children were wearing.
How did you get into a career in fashion?
I’ve never been to any school after high school, and I started styling when I was 19 years old. If you have designing ambitions, it’s a great way to analyze how things are constructed and marketed. Also I learned about photography and video-making through the same years. These mediums are as necessary as the collections because it’s all about the language I use when expressing myself and applying my vision.
Where did you get the inspiration for your unisex collection #05? Where do you get your inspiration in general?
When I’m designing a collection, I don’t think to myself that I am designing a new collection necessarily, because it’s all an evolution from the previous collection. I’m inspired by the idea of creating something that can’t be defined by a limited category, things that have no reference from the past. I believe the only way you can attend to this kind of inspiration, is by observing everything around you. I also love crisp and clean lines. I am preoccupied by the dialogue between form and function, and I want to establish something perennial. I’m very interested in architecture, and it allows me to focus on the strength of a sharp black line. It’s what you find in everything I do.
Do you consider yourself an artist? I mean, do you consider fashion as a medium to express yourself?
I don’t know if I need to call myself a designer or an artist, I like a certain aesthetic that reflects the way I am and the way I see the world. Fashion and art for me are about transcending simple functionality and gaining symbolic, evocative power by engaging in a dialogue with the environment and time. It’s a tool for self-expression and self-invention. Beauty is everywhere, yet perfection is nowhere. I’m a perfectionist and I think that fashion and art make me feel that perfection can maybe one day exist. So fashion and art are full of illusions.
How did you get the idea of doing the Tranclassic exhibition in Paris last summer?
Tranclassic featured film, audio, and photographic installations to introduce my unisex transformable classics. I used one jacket, presented in 10 different ways, mixed with other classic items. The fact that I used female models for the exhibition during men’s fashion week represents the genderless/unisex aspect of my direction. I also choose to work with models who epitomize my ideas of personality, style, and transcending beauty that does not refer to a past generation, nor threaten to expire in the future, in other words, models that have a timeless and transformable beauty. Beauty that you can take in many different directions — androgynous, sensual, feminine and masculine — faces that can transform and be supernatural. I wanted to bring together these mediums to personify transformable, classic beauty.
The first thing that came to my mind at the exhibition was that your outfits were incredibly photogenic. And just next to the collection you exhibited, there was a wall of beautiful black and white photographs. Is photography important to your work?
Photography, video, and film have always, equally, been my interests. When I was a 12-year-old boy, my father bought me a camera, and I was constantly photographing my friends and everything around me. I ended up having albums and albums. It was something I enjoyed a lot and always liked to be doing. Designing clothes is only one part of what I do.
There are actually Rad Hourani and Rad by Rad Hourani. Can you tell us the difference between them?
The Rad Hourani line functions as a laboratory of a lifestyle in which design, photography, film, and music can be found. I wanted to focus on transformable designs that I already started in the past three collections with an experiment with new shapes and fabrics in a couture-like approach.
The Rad by Rad Hourani collection focuses on styles and silhouettes of the same unisex signature look offered in different materials and a more casual fit. My objective is to create garments that can be worn by anyone at any time. I also subvert the biannual fashion calendar to some extent by fusing and blending seasonal stereotypes into an adaptable innovation system based on a-seasonal collections identified only by their sequential number.
Do you think the future of the fashion industry for men can one day survive independently from the fashion industry for women?
I always felt that it was like a fast food industry that I don’t feel like belonging to. I’m into people who do not need to be told how to be or how to dress. A Rad Hourani person is someone who does not follow a trend, people who do not define themselves as men or women, who feel ageless all the time, and who look comfortable when they move, think, talk, and dress. I guess they are people that I see my reflection in; it’s all about the mirror when it comes to others. I am most interested in designing for people that can see themselves similarly to the way I do. I’m not interested in knowing about a men’s or women’s fashion industry; it’s passé for me.
What do you think about the fashion industry in general today? Don’t you think that it became too accessible to the public?
I just know that I don’t need to be another fashion trendy “it” designer — there are so many of them. I’m interested in making things that make me think and react. I admire designers who have a complete vision, who pay attention to all the details of their brand’s image, and take that vision even further in abstraction and refinement, all the way into the field of art.
Why do you make your collections mainly unisex?
I don’t see why we need to divide things by gender, seasons, rules, religion, race, nationality, age, etc. I think that as a society, we’ve been extremely programmed. Even the most advanced societies are very limited in the way they define themselves. The way I do things without gender or season, it applies to everything in life. It’s about defying those limitations that are so often self-imposed. I believe that the obsession with segregation or religion is what breeds war.
How did you react when you read the first critics on collection #1?
I was just very happy that I was able to accomplish a first step of what I wanted to do for a long time. Launching my own label had been in the back of my head for a long time, but I just didn’t feel ready for it six years ago.
That collection was exclusively made of black. The collection #06 is mainly black and white. Why did you choose these two “colors”?
I love colors when they are well done. It’s very easy to add colors to any collection, but it’s very complex to create something strong in black and minimal. I have used some colors in the past, and I’m not afraid of using or adding more in the future; I just have to feel like wearing it as I’m my own muse.
From all the fashion “capital” cities, which one do you prefer?
All cities and no cities. I prefer the universe, as I think that circumstances have brought me to move around from an early point in my life, and I’ve felt compelled to continue on doing so, for this experience has made me consider things in a wider perspective, with no restrictions. I am not especially attached to the concept of national identity. Of course, what I’ve seen in every city I’ve been in has contributed to shaping my personality — I don’t want to set any boundaries on my capacity to learn and evolve. It helped me to understand that I’m from nowhere and I’m everywhere.
Is there a Rad Hourani persona just like Karl Lagerfeld with his white-hair-high-collar-fingerless-gloves or Anna Wintour and her fur coat and legendary hairstyle?
I believe that the way everyone dresses is a reflection of their personality, so I think that I needed to create that costume in the clothes that I make to start aligning things with my world. Basically, my way of thinking is seeing the world with no borders, no nationality, no age, color, gender or season. What you see in my clothes or silhouette is a reflection of who I am.
What are your plans for the future?
I really started from nothing and to be really honest, my first collection was really for myself. I never knew it would go this far, even if I imagined or projected this, now that it’s starting to happen, I’m so thankful for everything that has been happening to me. Everything that I do is out of what I want to be wearing or feeling and this is how I stay focused and maintain a clear vision in which I can express myself. My plan is clear: keep showing collections, integrate a solid business platform, and extend to other activities when the time is right, art, film, and hopefully more.