MONTREAL, Canada - When Rad Hourani's clothes hit the runway last season, the names that people were whispering included those of fashion royalty like Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester -- or at least that's what Style.com said when they named him one of their Top 10 New Faces for the S/S 2008 collections.
This is no mean feat for this young stylist from Montreal. He has no formal fashion training at all. "I am lucky enough to be extremely curious about anything," he says. Everything I know about fashion design, videomaking or photography, I learned it on my own." He has put all of these skills to use in a series of 15 videos directed and edited from 2006-2007 as he prepared for his first collection. Amongst the featured models is Canadian Heather Marks.
What's most remarkable is Rad's focused vision - in his collection, his videos and even his personal style. Though it's still early days, this clarity has already paid off. Not only has Canada's prestigious Holt Renfrew bought his first collection, but a recent Karl Lagerfeld costume caught the attention of the gloved-man himself, who wanted to know everything about his doppelganger.
As Rad prepares to take his next collection to New York for A/W 2008, we caught up with him for a quick Q&A to get the first detailed look at this young talent...before the crowds appear. BoF: You say your clothes could come from no place, no time, and no tradition. If not from any of these things, where do they come from?
RH: Very often when looking at collections from a given season, you realize that there is a sense of cohesiveness, of consensus among the majority of designers. You can actually pinpoint the main trends of the season – shape, colors, lengths, etc. For my part I do my best to stay focused on my own aesthetics more than on the market, and I hope – maybe naively – that you will never be able to stick a label on a specific piece or collection and gasp “this is soooooo 2007”. Its rather a quest for something timeless and anonymous.
BoF: So then, tell us about how you first entered the fashion industry?
RH: I dropped school pretty early and started working in a clothing store in Montreal. Shortly after, I started scouting for a modelling agency, then one thing led to another and I ended up working full time as a stylist for fashion and corporate clients. It was fun, it was a bit like a 5 years training for what I am doing now, and I met a lot of the people I surrounded myself with to launch my label.
BoF: How did you go from being a stylist in Montreal to showing your first collection in Paris and how do you ensure that you bring design to your collection, not just styling?
RH: This plan of launching my own label had been in the back of my head for a long time but I just didn’t feel ready for it 5 years ago. Styling is great to learn how to use clothes but, more importantly, if you have designing ambitions, it’s a great way to analyse how things are constructed and marketed, especially for someone who never went to design or fashion school like me. It was probably longer than a scholarship, but I feel I learned way more, and I got the bonus of knowing a lot of great people who support me today.
BoF: You have a creative aesthetic that has been compared to famed deconstructivists like Ann de Meulemeester and Helmut Lang, what is it about this style that appeals to you? Do you agree with these comparisons?
RH: That’s a tough one. I can’t deny my admiration and love for such designers, and if we must end up in some kind of category, I am happy to belong to this one. There is definitely a sense of nonchalant rock in my silhouettes, but comparing me to Helmut Lang is – although unbelievably flattering – a bit of a quick leap.
BoF: The response to your first collection shows signs of early promise, but now comes the hard part. How are you getting this collection produced and delivered into stores?
RH: Lots of chai tea, sleepless nights and candid thinking… my first show was meant to assess my chances of realizing a long time dream, so I didn’t even think about selling this first collection. Let’s say the orders I got are a great icing on the cake but I wRH: anted to limit my first distribution efforts to fine-tune all aspects of the business and be as ready as one can for next season, which I am showing in NYC.
BoF: Yeah, about that. Why the switch from Paris?
RH: I don’t see why I couldn’t show in Paris one season, and in NYC the next one. Today, buyers are travelling in all major fashion capitals and it’s not going to make that big a difference for them. Because of the reaction to my first – rather artisanal – show, I got noticed by Bumble and Bumble and they offered me their kind sponsor during the upcoming fashion week in nyc, so it was a real no-brainer for me.
BoF: Finally, what is the vision you have for your business? What can we expect from you in the years to come?
RH: My plan is clear : keep showing collections, integrate a solid business platform and extend to other activities when the time will be ripe. No rush, though