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.”