Rad Hourani is a young designer who applies a ›no season, no gender, no rules‹ ethos to his clothing. His S/S’11 Unisex collection echoes the merging of that which is masculine and feminine in fashion today. VAGA shot the favorite pieces from Hourani’s collection for this issue. Here Rad gives us a peek behind the curtain as he talks about his ›timeless‹ vision, his first idea of fashion, and what it means to be a Gen-Y designer.
Can you tell me a little about your background? I know you started as a model scout, then a stylist and now a designer and photographer (among a multitude of other things); how was that transition? It was a great transition as this plan of 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 6 years ago. Styling is great to learn how to use clothes. But more importantly if you have designing ambitions, it’s a great way to analyze how things are constructed and marketed, especially for someone who never went to design or fashion school like me. It was probably longer than a scholarship, but I feel I learned way more. Also I learned about photography and video through the past years and these mediums are as necessary as the collections because it’s all about the language I feel and like to use when expressing myself and applying my vision.
What was your first idea of fashion (i.e. your mother, an image in a magazine, film)? 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. And when I was a 12 year old, my father bought me a camera and I was constantly photographing friends and everything… always taking pictures. I ended up having albums and albums. At the time, of course, I had no idea that there was a job, being a photographer or any of that. It was just something I enjoyed a lot and always liked to be doing. The same applied when I first saw a video camera, I was so excited and wanted to use it and make videos.
What do you think is the role of the designer today in fashion? It seems fashion designers must be brands now: be on reality shows, have fast fashion lines, Twitter accounts... My role is to focus on my personal style and what i feel like wearing. Not trying to please anyone or trying to fit any category. Media is a big part of our world today and it can be always used in an elegant and stylized way. There’s nothing wrong when it’s well done.
Some designers have radically different inspiration points each seasons (i.e. Dior, Marc Jacobs) while other designers, work through similar themes each collection (Rick Owens, Donna Karan), slowly evolving their vision. Which kind of designer are you? 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 collection before. 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 with the dialogue between form and function, and I want to establish something perennial. I’m very interested in architecture, it allows me to focus on the strength of a sharp black line and it’s what you find in everything I do.
There is so much going on in fashion right now (Big fashion labels doing fast fashion lines, blog culture, 90’s heavy aesthetic)? How do you define this current period of fashion? Fast food? But the real meaning of fashion for me is about clothes transcending simple functionality and gaining symbolic, evocative power by engaging in a dialogue with their environment and their 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 makes me feel that perfection can maybe one day exist. So fashion is full of illusions…
How has being a modeling scout affected your fashion sense/eye? Did it change what you look for in models when presenting your collections? Of course. I learned a lot about the silhouette, the body movement and how a body shape can be dressed in many different styles. I also learned about proportions. I rarely look at any model’s portfolio when they come to my castings as I need to see the model in person with no make up and as real as possible. The perfect canvas is what I’m always looking for, with a great personality. I’m not into hype models as I find they take away the attention from the clothes and I want people to look at the collection and not at what names of models were in the show. I prefer to create a new generation of perfect models.
How do you find passion for something, or want to create, when it feels as if everything has been done? »Everything has been done before« is an illusionary fact. The unisex world that I’m creating is not something I’ve heard of before. And when I say unisex it relates to genderless, ageless, seasonless, raceless, etc. I’ve always created things by observing only, including my clothing canvas, words, music, art and images, and that is where my passion always comes from, to always start from zero. My passion comes from creating things for myself that can make me feel and think in a new way.
Where do you think fashion is going? There seems to be a back and forth intimacy and immediacy in fashion. It’s called »Trends« which is something I’m very allergic to. I have no comments on this kind of fashion as I have no interest in where it’s going.
What do you want people to take away from this upcoming collection? I want them to adapt their own personality to everything they see or wear as I love to see different kinds of people wearing my clothes and feeling as comfortable and confident as possible. And of course to understand where the clothes are shaped from and that my message is about being open minded before all else.
This issue is about Generation Y and creative success. What do you think the key to success is? Do you think there is a combination of timing, talent, luck? Or is there no key to success? It’s important to believe in what you do and to put all of your energy and passion into it, as the challenge is the same challenge of any language: to get understood and make people react to what you say, whatever that reaction might be. You can’t always please everyone, but you can at least please yourself. I also think that you need a good balance to achieve real success in this industry: sense of fashion and sense of business. Once you have a signature full of quality in what you do-and a complete vision, you’ll always be fine.
Do you believe the Internet allows people to step over normal paths of networking? Skip steps? Someone who starts a blog can get a designing deal with Urban Outfitters, start a magazine, etc. etc. I think that there’s a place for everyone and I like the idea of showing some talents’ work through the Internet. But I think it’s a bit too much when it comes to people who have nothing to do in their life except writing rude comments and talking about other people’s work instead of concentrating on their own work and time. I believe that everyone should be respected for whatever they do as it takes courage and effort to do something. If you don’t like what someone may be doing, go and get what you like somewhere else instead of wasting your energy on bad comments and cheap words that will take you nowhere.
© by Vaga / Photography Walker Brockington / Styling Fernando Lahoz & Fernanda Steinmann / Hair Britney Williams for Bumble & Bumble / Model Kel Markey at Supreme Models / Text & Interview Lauren Garroni
You say about your work that there is ‘no season, no gender, no rules apply’–Do you think this fluidity speaks to what is going on not just in fashion but »culture at large« right now? Of course as clothing is a part of my world, but it’s not everything in my world. I believe that the way everyone dresses is a reflection of who they are and their personality. I think that I needed to create that costume in the clothes that I make to start aligning things with my world, but it doesn’t stop there with only fashion. When I create fashion I don’t think of fashion, I think of a whole world that I can share with others. My work is really the result of observing and finding your own way of seeing things. Finding your own rules and principals via things that you’ve been conditioned by, from your youth or society or from who you are. Basically, my way of thinking is seeing the world with no boarders, no nationality, no age, color, gender or season. 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.
Twenty years from now, what ›image‹ will stick out as defining this moment of fashion we’re in now? I can only know what image I’ll be sticking mine to, which is »Timelessness«.
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