PHOTO DIARY BY RAD HOURANI AT DUBAI ART FAIR
Rad Hourani and Musician Chris Garneau Discuss Their New Video "Our Man".
by Maggie Dolan For PAPERMAG
American singer-songwriter Chris Garneau began working on his latest album Winter Games five years ago, right around the time he met French designer Rad Hourani in Paris. Forming a friendship and collaborative bond, the two creatives began working together. Hourani's androgynous, graphic vision is a striking compliment to Garneau's spellbinding sound. In their latest collaboration, Hourani directs the video for the Winter Games' track "Our Man." Below Garneau and Hourani discuss their mutual admiration and what inspired the video's haunting beauty.
Chris Garneau: We met back in 2009, I believe, through a mutual friend. I didn't really know you very well but we kept in touch and I would see you in Paris. I think the first time we really had a connection, we were out at a bar talking about Nina Simone.
Rad Hourani: Yeah I remember exactly. I knew your music through a friend that was listening to it at my studio, and one day I asked, "Who is that?" Then I heard it again and again, and I really admired it. One night we were out in Paris, and we started talking about music. I was telling you about how I loved your sensitivity and fragility but very strong vocabulary in your songs. Then we started talking about Nina Simone. We both traveled a lot but kept in touch with email.
CG: I think I started emailing you random recordings, rough drafts that I made at home. This was also around the time I got rid of all my clothes that had color in them [laughs] because I started to feel really distracted by colors. That was one thing that began to appeal to me in your work. For me, your work is kind of like classical music. It doesn't have any singing. It's just instrumental music. I need to not have all of that extra noise in my life.
RH: I think about it like that too [laughs]. It's about seeing the truth, and I find black and white are more direct. When you sent me your new album, I completely fell in love with it. I asked you if you wanted to sing at my couture show in Paris, and you said yes. I was really happy and that's where the idea of the video started.
CG: Yeah, you invited me to work on your couture show, which was your first unisex couture collection. So I came to Paris and I wanted it to be really, really special, but didn't know what I wanted to do so I kept changing my mind every day. I had this idea for some reason that it should be more ambient and atmospheric, and after a few days, you were like, "No, no, no. I want you to play your music." So we ended up doing two extended versions of songs from the new album, Winter Games.
RH: It was quite magical. Lots of people were leaving the show crying. So many of my friends came to me with tears on their face. I think it was the mix of something quite austere and neutral with the clothes, which are really graphic, and having the sentimental element of you playing live. I remember I was backstage fixing the looks before they go on the runway, and I hear you playing, and I remember having these huge goosebumps. For me, it was a perfect marriage.
CG: For me as well. During the few days leading up to the show, we were able to meet a bit at your studio, and I could see what was going to be shown. It's just this thing that kind of works, between what you're is creating and what I'm creating. I think part of it is this, sort of, genderless, androgynous work that we both do.
RH: I would also say timeless. Your music is timeless. I think what I do is about being timeless, and I see it in your work. You play the piano your own way, you sing words your own way and you write them your own way. For me, this is the most important thing. You know when you show someone some music and they say it's pop, it's rock, it's country, but with your music it's like "What is this?" There's no one else who does what you does in your own way.
With the video, I asked you what the album was about -- how you wrote your songs and how you felt when you were doing it. It's about memories and things from the past and things that we search for in past experiences. What we wanted to show was all types of people with different personalities brought together in a video that makes you feel what each one of them thinks of the other one. I don't want to intellectualize the video too much, but I tried to put my modern, minimalist style into something that can represent you. I also worked a lot with a camera that moved with the vibration of the music, rather than shooting at any rhythm, I wanted every sound, every vibration in the movement. And when you see the baby at the beginning of the video, it's about relating to memories, the past. When you're a child, you start accumulating memories and you're with your mother and you grow up and you're with different people and you start creating different memories as well.
CG: That's totally on the mark. The album started around asking people about their earliest memories of winter -- my family, my closest friends. So this one song, "Our Man," is the culmination of a lot of peoples' memories, including my own. But really it's about parental abandonment or lack of protection, but it's also not so specific. It's a grouping of many inspirations. I feel like the song is, in a sense, an abstraction and the video suits it. In the same way I was talking about the lack of color, to get rid of the noise and distraction of the world, I feel the same sense with this video. The lack of having a real intellectual foundation as a basis allows you to have some freedom -- to really keep it based on the sound and the visual not make your head too crazy to think "What is every single moment about?" It's something more based around art rather then writing a book or a story. That's something I'm really happy to delve into at this point in my life, with this record.
PHOTO DIARY BY RAD HOURANI AT DUBAI ART FAIR
ACTRESS & MODEL ZOE DUCHESNE WEARING RAD UNISEX READY TO WEAR COLLECTION
PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAD HOURANI - HAIR BY NICOLAS ELDIN - MAKE UP BY YACINE DIALLO AT ARTLIST
PHOTO DIARY BY RAD HOURANI AT THE NEW NATIONAL GALLERY - BERLIN
RAD IS WEARING :
PHOTO 1 UNISEX LEATHER JACKET
PHOTO DIARY BY RAD HOURANI AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM - BERLIN
ACTOR HAYDEN CHRISTENSEN PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAD HOURANI
WEARING UNISEX RAD GRAY WOOL PUFFY COAT
MODEL OLIVIER WEARING RAD UNISEX CLASSICS - PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAD HOURANI
HAIR BY ANDREW LY + MAKE UP BY LUC BOUCHARD FOR MAC
PHOTO DIARY BY RAD HOURANI AT THE pergamon museum - BERLIN
SINGER COEUR DE PIRATE PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAD HOURANI
WEARING RH LIMITED EDITION COUTURE UNISEX COLLECTION #12
CAROLINE DE MAIGRET PHOTOGRAPHED BY RAD HOURANI FOR MYKROMAG
Styled by Sonny Groo - Make up by Helene Vasnier - Hair by Vinz
WEARING UNISEX RAD HOURANI COUTURE COLLECTION #12
LIVE PIANO BY COEUR DE PIRATE - VIDEO EDITING EMMANUEL MAURIÈS RINFRET
photos by Donald Gjoka
Will men and women ever happily share the same clothes? Unisex fashion lines take androgynous chic to the next level, but it may be a step too far for many.
With models lining up in black outfits, an opulent setting and silver masks to match the mouldings on the walls, Rad Hourani's show last week fitted right into the couture schedule. But look again, and there's one key difference: Hourani's collection was designed to be unisex. Those masks were there for a reason – to remove any gender differences in models' faces.
This was the first unisex collection to be shown in couture, which is significant not only because couture is a growth area in fashion, but also one of the stuffiest all fashion weeks. Furthermore, Hourani is part of the establishment. Sidney Toledo, president of Christian Dior, has been mentoring him, and he was invited on to the couture schedule by the president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, Didier Grumbach.
Unisex style is hot at the moment. Richard Nicoll launched S/He for spring, a unisex line that he created in partnership with artist Linder Sterling, and JW Anderson regularly blurs the boundaries between genders, telling the Guardian this month that looking at clothes in terms of these divides is "really stale". We have also seen a shift in trends: with pieces such as bomber jackets, sweatshirts and trainers key items in both men's and womenswear.
Hourani, who is originally from Canada, is at the forefront of this trend. He launched his unisex ready-to-wear line RAD by Rad Hourani in Paris in 2007. In a bid to create clothes that "exude the essence of timeless style", his designs are deliberately genderless. Rather than the "men-in-skirts" approach, he concentrates on clothes – T-shirts, jackets, shoes – that seamlessly move between men's and women's wardrobes. It looks strikingly sci-fi even when you remove the models' masks.
Whether unisex design is actually the future of fashion, though, is up for a debate. There will always be customers, particularly in womenswear, who like an androgynous look but, in equal measure, there are those wholove ultra-feminine clothes (see Versace). Rather, unisex is the logical conclusion of the "boyfriend fit" trend, even if a mainstream acceptance of men borrowing their partner's clothes –"girlfriend fit", anyone? - is probably a long way off.
by for The Guardian UK
“…Do not cross legs, do not cross arms, do not pose. Do not stop. Be pure. Be Unisex. Be Couture.” Rad Hourani's artful poetry decorated his Haute Couture invitation and underlined his blended vision of his unisex namesake label. Born in Jordan and raised in Montreal, Canada, he was the first designer to be invited by The Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture in Paris to exhibit his unisex Haute Couture collection. He also designs a unisex ready-to-wear line, Rad by Rad Hourani and continues to break barriers with his innovative take on gender unification in fashion. #EXTRAORDINAIRE spoke with the designer backstage during Paris Fashion Week to find out: what is extraordinaire?
Would you classify your design palette as androgynous? And how do you distinguish androgynous from unisex?
I do not define my look as androgynous. Androgyny is a style that is being either feminine or masculine. My style, on the other hand, is more unisex. Unisex style is genderless and timeless. The collection unites the sexes by abolishing borders. My designs are not limited to gender, age, religion or season. Creating garments that are suitable for both genders is the backbone of my collection. I also like to work on transformable pieces, which are items that can transform into a skirt, a corset, a dress, etc. This provides the two sexes with endless possibilities to display their own personal style.
What motivated you to design unisex couture ?
It is important to be inquisitive. At the beginning of my career I asked myself who decided why men should be dressed differently than women? Why exactly do these trends exist? For instance, at the time of Louis XIV men were wearing heels and women were wearing corsets… and then things changed. I soon realized that in a way we as a society have invented these codes. My role as a designer is to erase these codes and start something new.
How would you describe your creative process?
The creative process is always linked to the unisex. It took me a year to understand a man’s body and a woman’s body and then I created one canvas to fit both. I sketch each season on the same canvas. This collection is constructed alike for both men and women, except with a variation of separate looks. I design graphic lines and architectural shapes. These shapes can be a garment, a building, a car, or even an object. When I design, I think of myself and how I like to dress. I think that the way we dress is a form of expression and it is something that reflects our personality and the way we are. My clothes reflect my way of being and my way of thinking that is free from any restrictions. I like to add another dimension of sophistication to my work and to be challenged.
You debuted your first collection at age twenty-five, what advice do you have for young aspiring designers?
I tell them to have a vision. It is very important to respect your vision and do not compromise. Do not create a brand just to create a brand. Do not look at fashion to create fashion, do something else, or something new. Quality comes first. I never look at collections or even fashion photography to get inspired. If you seek inspiration in other people’s art, you are simply just recycling and not inventing. Think of a complete vision from A to Z and also be ready to work extremely hard to succeed. I would never be where I am today if I did not work twenty-four hours straight, day and night. The design world is not easy.
What is #EXTRAORDINAIRE for Rad Hourani?
Feeling good is extraordinaire.
Interview: Chloe Rash
Illustration: Alexandria Coe
One-on-one with the first unisex couturier
Photography Alexandra Utzmann
Words Ray Siegel
For all of the lip service that designer’s pay the notion of timeless fashion, designer Rad Hourani is a true devotee to the cause. Taking that ideology several steps further, he prides himself in design that is timeless, seasonless, ageless, genderless and was built using the first-ever unisex pattern—and his own “set of rules.” According to Hourani, it all begins with one graphic shape that could evolve into anything—a building, a piece of furniture, a sculpture—but eventually morphs into his collection, one that stands out amidst the typical ruffles and embellishments that are quintessentially couture.
In 2005, Hourani arrived in Paris to work as a stylist and two years later, launched his namesake ready-to-wear collection. Only six years later, he became the first unisex couturier in history to be invited by the Fédération Française de la Haute Couture.
“I did my first collection for my personal wardrobe and had no idea that it would go this far,” Hourani explains. “I believe that using what I would like to wear as a starting point for the design process is the most truthful and straightforward approach. It allows me to stay focused on my aesthetic and assess my commitment to wearability, functionality, and comfort. I have always been interested in creating something that looks minimal, but is complex to make. For me, that is the most challenging part of my work. I also admire the craftsmanship of making something extremely luxurious without it being showy. Attending to complexity and simplicity at the same time is a very long process. It’s all about “savoir faire” which is working with the best of the best in every aspect: fabrics, tailoring, cutting, fitting, and proportions.”
His style is based on symmetry and rectangular shapes that help him realize his unisex concept. He blames it on an subconscious attraction to architecture, but his main focus always comes backs to the timeless nature of his designs. “I want to free my collection from all trends or seasons or references from the past. Given the nature of the fashion calendar, I have to present my collections on a bi-yearly basis, but I design them with the idea that they could 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 differentiations. My methodology revolves around the notion of the present existing without a past.”
As for what is different about the collection that went down the runway today: “Extreme femininity and masculinity. I wanted to give both of these sides a place in this collection. I hope to reach people who do not define themselves in strict terms.”