“…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