The famously self-taught Rad Hourani from Montreal has been carving out a hard-edged niche for himself, never straying too far from sexy androgynous looks. For A/W 08, that case remains but there was an added experimentation with fabrics and textures and jewelled embellishments that made Hourani shine on the last day of New York Fashion Week.
Dazed Digital: What were your inspirations for this season?
Rad Hourani: My main influence is myself. It's always something that is a continuity of the first collection I started. It's just a feeling... doing what I want to wear, it's a continuity of all of that. My references are always the same: architecture, graphic design... it can be an image, a movie, a person-- it can be anything. There are no specific influences. I always make clothing that I would like to wear myself. It's completely myself, as if I'm a frame that catches everything around me and related to me-- everything that I see and do. And my brain is like a computer that spits out what I feel like wearing.
DD: I attended last season's show and loved it. Is there going to be as much leather this time?
RH: There is always lots of leather, but I'm also really hoping to see how technology will evolve-- especially with the development of fake leather. I use real leather now, but I would like to eventually experiment with fake leather that looks and feels real. I would like to look into it one day, when it's the right time.
DD: Despite your "no-background background," how did you first become interested in fashion?
RH: I guess when I was a kid, my mom used to always take me to her seamstress. I was always surrounded by fabrics and pattern makers. I was really a little kid, so I didn't understand what it was all about. But then I also never wanted to wear anything that the other kids where wearing. Like when my mom would buy me the same outfit as my brother, there was no way I would wear it. I was always into something different-- something that has an aesthetic that doesn't belong.
DD: And lots of black!
RH: Yeah, and my background was really finishing high school, and after high school I started scouting. The one day someone said to me, "Ah, you have great style, why don't you be a stylist?" And I had no idea what styling was. From there I just really continued developing my personal style, and thinking about what I would want to create. I kind of knew that one day that I would start making a collection with my name as a brand-- but for a while maybe I didn't feel I was ready. I never like to do something half way, you know? I want to do it the right way. And I've always been like that about a certain aesthetic. But I'm not interested in fashion-- I'm interested in style. I speak to people who are interested in something seasonless. Something that they will figure out how to wear themselves and make it their own.
DD: What other fabrics are you using today?
RH: I always use silk, wool-- the classic fabrics that will never go out of style, but then I like to mix it up. I like paillettes, or sequins, and the effects of patterns. I look for fabric that has a comfort to it, and then I mix it up by adding some little touches. I always like subtlety-- but this time I feel like having fun so maybe I put more flash in there. When I pulled looks for the show, I like to pair the flashier pieces with more subtle ones.
DD: Which designers are you most influenced by?
RH: I've really always be attracted to Pierre Cardin. I think he was someone who started something that was a bit more futuristic, more modern and graphic. And he kind of invented fabric, he was a great designer. If I see something from another designer that I like, or something that relates to me, I will always relate it back to Pierre Cardin.
DD: Do you live in New York now, after showing in Paris in the beginning?
RH: Yes, part time. So I was living in Paris full time and it just felt natural then. After that I spoke to Wayne Sterling (my casting director) about casting the show and I said, "Ah, why not do it in New York?" And I like the idea of being from nowhere and everywhere. For me, cities are the same as numbers and the same as colors-- it's not something that has a limit to it. I feel very comfortable in New York, I feel like home here. Everyone has been very supportive here, so it's been great.
DD: What are your plans for the future of your label? Where do you see yourself in a few years?
RH: It's a continuity to the beginning, and it's really sticking to my style and just developing it as much as possible. It's like a feeling I want to continue... I would like to have accessories, shoes, bags. I would also like to eventually have my own perfume.
DD: What you have going on, it's like a way of life.
RH: Yeah, it's a world I've created... a world, my world that I have in my mind-- and if you like it, if you want to get in it, that's good, that's wonderful.