Rad is not an ordinary fashion designer. He has more than one timeless and genderless string to his bow. He creates garments, images, movements, lines, always in black and white in a delicate and meaningful manner. His artwork knows no bounds. Born in Jordan from a Jordanian father and a Syrian mother, Rad’s creative débuts took place in Montreal, Quebec. He used to scout new faces for a modelling agency before officially entering the fashion scene as a fashion designer in Paris under the « couture » patronage of big and influential CEO at Christian Dior Couture, Sidney Toledano. This active drive allowed him to join the « Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture » as a guest member no later than January 2013. For your information, Rad is the first foreigner fashion designer to introduce his collections during the Parisian select Haute Couture calendar. This is no little matter, it is not an easy task to be admitted as a couture house by this organisation… At a Rad Hourani’s show, it is more likely to catch sight of a Larry Clark or a Michael Pitt in the front row… Hayden Christense, Lady Gaga, Caroline de Maigret, Jared Leto, Diane Pernet are part of the mystic guru’s followers, just to name a few socialites (It is always good to link fashion designs to renowned fashion followers). What is his primary source of inspiration ? His own self –dreamer, skinny and virgin- virgin from diktats and directions. Rad Hourani has no labels, he does not like labels. He prefers number sequences. His collections are numbered as follows : RH#1, RH#2, RH#3… RH#11. Thus their flat identity evolving inbetween the feminine and the masculine is confirmed. As stated earlier, Rad is not an ordinary fashion designer. His free spirit drifts between multiple fields : fashion, visual arts and architecture. So we cannot assert that Rad is a fashion designer, it would be too reductive. And we cannot either say he is a multi-talented artist (He does not like labels). Say Rad Hourani is a universal human being, a contradictions lover whose mission is to free people from their preconceived ideas about gender, space and time.
Let’s thank this special talent for his global contribution to the human condition through his artwork and also, for dedicating time to answer our questions before the rush of the Parisian fashion week… Meet unisex fashion maker Rad Hourani.
FAULT : Hi Rad ! How have you been ?
RH : All is being great. I’m in a very happy place in my life.
FAULT : Are you ready for Paris fashion week? (Do you know what you are going to wear ?)
RH : I guess you have to be always ready, it’s not a choice. I’m always organized and on time in terms of everything as I like to know that everything is in control. I wear Rad Hourani head to toe everyday, I haven’t shopped for the past seven years. I even started my own underwear line.
FAULT : I heard winter was pretty warm in Paris right now which is good news for the Parisian fashion sphere. No snow, no drama. Are you going to support your Haute Couture Godfather Sidney Toledano (CEO at Christian Dior Couture) ?
RH : This is the best winter we have ever had in Paris for five years. I’m very proud to have Mr Toledano as my godfather to become an « guest member » in Haute Couture. And I’m always available to support him at any occasion.
FAULT : Are you introducing your new collection at your clinical-styled art space/shop rue Charlot –converting your white thick shelves in benches ?
RH : This has been my full time unisex gallery for two years now. I do my photograph exhibits there and some pop up shops as well.
FAULT : Selling luxury goods is a form of art in itself. Do you agree with this statement ?
RH : Absolutely. Everything can be a form of art.
FAULT : I remember first time we met it was at the opening of your space in Paris and I was really impressed by the all white interior design, the lighting and the adaptable structure to any kind of shows and performances. I was immersed in a white box with only black and dark grey garments hung along walls ; Sharp chemists serving champagne… Disturbing and calming at the same time. Who designed your Parisian space ?
RH : I designed it myself. I don’t see why we need to have a title for what we do in life. I find it very limiting to be set in one category. Clothing is the first element in which you can express yourself and your personality. What we wear is what we are in a way and I think it was a logical thing for me to start with that but I don’t consider myself as a designer, a photographer or a filmmaker. I am all of those things in one. I want to be able to express my vision through all media to communicate my unisex language completely. I am someone living on planet earth and I use different media to express myself: design, art, film, photography, music, etc. You can call me a visualist if you want to label me.
FAULT : It seems like you see art as a form of therapy. Is art a key to happiness ?
RH : Art is a form of expression and my methodology revolves around the notion of the present existing without a past. A pure present can’t exist if you are not in the now. To be in the present is to be freed from both the past and the future. And I think it’s the same for clothing, it is about creating a form that can be the present at all times without fitting in any past categories. It’s a very challenging thing to me as it’s very easy to design trends or be the cool thing one day and be nothing the following day.
FAULT : Where does your love for black colour come from? What feelings could you associate with this colour ?
RH : I am interested in the juxtaposition of somber and luminous, classical and modern. It is the deconstruction and reconstruction of visual elements gathered along different spaces and experiences. People are perpetually obsessed with what is hot now, or what is coming next, but are rarely concerned with how its visual production will transcend time. Most fashion and art publications are the direct result of the market economy which tends to show the ephemeral nature of objects that reflect our human finality. My way of existing in the current paradigm is a dichotomy: I create garments, videos, graphic art, and photography that appeal to a very contemporary sensitiveness, yet they appear to belong to their own time. This timelessness seems effortless, and is not season specific. My photographs show moments that could last forever.
FAULT : Yohji Yamamoto once said : “Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: “I don’t bother you – don’t bother me”.” Do you feel the same way ?
RH : I think that black is the most unisex timeless color and my objective is to create garments that can be worn by anyone at any time. Therefore, I do not start every new season with a specific concept, but rather try to establish continuity from one to the next. My pieces are timeless and freed from any strict gender differentiations. I am not afraid of doing what makes sense to me and inventing a unique style and not caring about being fashionable.
FAULT : You two seem to value the importance of space and freedom in whatever you undertake. Through your work I can see that you want to enable people to secure their own freedom. Correct ?
RH : The idea arose from a series of questions: who decided that a man should dress in one way and a woman in another? Or that different ages should dress differently? Who imposed these codes? Each piece can be worn by any gender or age. It doesn’t make sense to me to limit things and that’s why I took a full year to study male and female bodies to create a canvas that can fit both. I think it’s about the yin and yang in all of us, the negative and positive, the masculine and feminine, the dark and light, the passive and active, the intuitive and logical, the cold and hot, the soft and hard.
FAULT: Are you satisfied with fashion today? What do you wish to see in the next years?
RH : Fashion is a trend machine that makes no sense to me. I have no interest in fashion. My interest lies in the world and in the people. I would like to keep on doing what I enjoy the most. To communicate my unisex vision in the world and hopefully participate in building a modern world where I can see more people observing things instead of doing what society tells them to do. To see more people questioning everything that has been imposed on them: gender limitations, religion, borders, age, race, nationality, etc. Yes I am a dreamer and I can’t live without dreaming.
FAULT : I saw the neo-noir film you directed (View on Nowness) featuring ballet dancer Zofia Tujaka, entirely filmed in black and white. You collaborated with choreographer Edouard Lock (Known for his collab with David Bowie, Frank Zappa and alikes) and I was wondering what made you want to collaborate with him ? How did you two connect ?
RH : I think his work is pretty much related to unisex without really showing it. I see many things in his work that reflect my vision. He’s one of the few artists in the world that I’m interested in and I’m very proud to have collaborated with him.
FAULT : This short film was part of Seamless, the retrospective of your five-year art work that you curated at Montreal’s Phi Center last November. How did you feel about it ? Why did you pick this particular place to exhibit your work ?
RH : It was the meeting of the great Phoebe Greenberg that made me want to do this exhibition at Phi. It was an honor to collaborate with her.
FAULT: You were born in Jordan from a Jordanian father and a Syrian mother. Are you going back to your birth country sometimes? How’s the fashion field like over there? Is creativity encouraged ?
RH : I travel every week for work and I don’t really have much time to travel for pleasure only. And I have no idea how the fashion is in Jordan as it’s been more than ten years since I last went there. I think it is a wonderful thing to live and grow up in different societies and cultures as it shows you the world from different angles, and makes you understand that we are all the same with common interests in life. And above all it makes you realize that we live in one world and not one country or one city.
FAULT : Do you feel homesick ?
RH : Never since I have been moving around from early age. That has made me consider things in a wider perspective with no restrictions. I also want to convey this notion in my line, and design clothes that can be worn anywhere, anytime. I design for people who appreciate a certain sobriety, yet who want to look effortlessly slick at all times.
FAULT : It is been now nine years you have been based in Paris. What do you enjoy most by living in this city on a day to day basis?
RH : Walking on the streets as it’s the city where I walk the most!
FAULT : What is your FAULT ?
RH : Fault can be anything as everything is an illusion…