Gender Bender: Rad Hourani


rad hourani, fashion, style

Rad by Rad Hourani autumn/winter 2012 collection (above)

Many designers would say that creating a chic, high-end unisex line is the holy grail of fashion. I felt the same way until I discovered New York based designer Rad Hourani, who was in Hong Kong last week to launch an exhibition at hip boutique I.T.

I have quickly become a fan of Hourani’s stark and minimalist aesthetic which reminds me of Rick Owens and Helmut Lang (the original, not the contemporary label that you see today). Like these two greats, his work is always looking forward but firmly rooted in classics you want to wear time and time again.

During our interview I discovered that Hourani hails from a diverse background – he was born and raised in Montreal but is of Jordanian and Syrian descent. When he was 19 he became a model scout and later a stylist in Paris.  It was during this time that he got the idea for his fashion line.

“I felt something was missing in fashion – I didn’t want anything vintage, rock ‘n’roll, or retro – anything that was definable. I started to question the boundaries set by society – class, age, sex, race, religion – which is why I came up with a unisex line. Fashion shouldn’t discriminate,” he says.

rad hourani, designer

Rad Hourani (above)

It took him a year to develop the ultimate unisex shape which he describes as a “straight line that gives you a longer body. I’m not attracted to clothes that make you look lazy – it has to be slick and sharp. Even if you’re wearing leggings and a T-shirt, I still want it to look defined with a certain elegance.”

He launched his eponymous label in 2007, featuring plenty of black and leather with a focus on timeless styles and interchangeable sizes (categorised as 1, 2 and 3). While his first two collections featured the same shapes, the look has evolved over time as he continues to experiment with little details and versatility.

“I play with fabrics, sleeves, small details. I have a template but I insert new elements all the time, like origami. At the moment its about reversible fabrics. I also like multi-functional pieces that can be worn different ways. It gives you the opportunity to adapt your style to it. It’s all about feeling confident and ageless,” he says.

rad hourani, fashion designer

Rad by Rad Hourani on display at I.T Hysan Avenue (above)

Today the Rad Hourani collection has become a specialist line featuring experimental designs while Rad by Rad Hourani offers a full collection of ready-to-wear including tops, trousers and jackets. Also coming soon is his first Haute Couture collection which will debut in Paris next month.

“It’s extremely minimalist and pure but up close you can see these amazing 3D details. It’s complex but simple and austere. It feels luxurious and expensive just by looking at it,” he says.

Indeed the appeal in his designs for me is the fact that they offer the wearer so many options – seasoned customers can inject each piece with their own personality while the simplicity of the line makes it less intimidating for newbies. Plus the cuts are super flattering and polished at the same time. Best of all, one thing you won’t find in any of his collections are trend-based items.

“Trends are destructive, and very unnecessary. There’s nothing worse than being dictated what you wear. Know your body, and know yourself when you wear Rad Hourani,” he says.

Hear hear!

rad hourani, fashion designer

Rad by Rad Hourani is available at I.T stores in Hong Kong and China. An exhibition featuring his latest video and photography installation is being held until June 26, 2012  at I.T, One Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, tel: +852 2890 7329.

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