Rad Hourani will be the first designer in history to present a unisex haute couture show this week during Paris Haute Couture Week. Why are we not surprised? At just 30 years old, the self-taught designer is already a notorious rule breaker and pioneer in the fashion industry, refusing to design clothes to fit the standard spring/summer and fall/winter categories, thus challenging the very notion of the standard fashion seasons that the rest of the industry folk build their lives around. Hourani’s designs are driven by what he calls “gender-agnosticism,” meaning that both of his collections, Rad Hourani and RAD by Rad Hourani, are ultimately unisex. Hourani, who moved to Montreal from Jordan at age 16 and now calls Paris and New York home, attributes his “no background background” to his natural ambition to explore and break boundaries. His anti-conformist designs have caught the attention of some of the most influential people in fashion. He was invited by Anna Wintour and Franca Sozzani to present Rad Hourani #6 in Milan in 2010, in honour of the CDFA Vogue Fashion Fund at Vogue Italy Talents Exhibition. Not bad for a young designer who launched his first collection five years ago. Real Style caught up with Hourani as he prepares to debut his first, not to mention the very first, unisex haute couture show in Paris.
Q: You will be the first designer in history to present a unisex haute couture show. What made you want to create a line that both men and women can wear?
Rad Hourani: I don’t believe in dividing any wardrobe by a gender or age or religion or culture, or any kind of limit. Unisex for me is not just about clothes; it is about a complete lifestyle in which I can see myself. What I do is a reflection of who I am, and that is why I decided to create a unisex vision five years ago.
Q: What is one of your favourite pieces from this collection, and how does it look on a man versus how it looks on a woman?
Rad Hourani: Every single piece had a lot of love and hard work to make, and I would not make a piece that can take two weeks to make if I don’t really love it. It’s like having kids: you don’t love one of your children more than another; you love them all the same.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration when designing a unisex collection?
Rad Hourani: What I feel like wearing and having in wardrobe.
Q: How did you become interested in becoming a unisex designer?
Rad Hourani: It just made complete sense for me when I came up with it five years ago. I didn’t think why; I just felt it. It is something that never existed before — a unisex high-end line — where every piece is made for any kind of gender. I was very excited to take this path, and today I’m more than thankful that I stick to what I believe in with no compromise.
Q: What stereotypically “male” look do you think looks beautiful on a woman?
Rad Hourani: I’m not interested in making women look like men or men to look like women. I’m here to erase all these self-imposed limits to dressing and existing in society. I like when each individual expresses their own style with my clothes. Unisex does not mean wear men’s clothes or women’s clothes; it’s about making a new canvas that has no identity of a gender or age.
Q: You don’t design for the standard bi-annual fashion calendar. How does that work for you?
Rad Hourani: I design timeless pieces. I don’t work with trends or what the fashion machine is about; I create my own rules, and I’m very thankful to have great clients that have taste, elegance and great minds. They see themselves in what I do, and it is one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
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