A few weeks ago I posted a short interview with London designers Teatum Jones, which was courtesy of Vancouver’s amazing new retail space, Secret Location. Another designer I got to interview for the store was Rad Hourani and I knew we’d get along well when he agreed with me that the fast pace of fashion is a bad thing. You can read the main interview on the Secret Location blog (where you can also buy his beautiful unisex collections), but here is the conversation we had afterwards.
Alexandra Suhner Isenberg: One of the things that I talk about on my blog is that I refuse to even look at the resort and pre-fall collections. I do short catwalk reviews of some of the big brands, but only the main collections, otherwise there are way too many. I remember a few years ago I started to look at the resort collections and I thought resort was still Chanel, Dior and Michael Kors and ten other brands, but then I realized everyone was doing resort. And I really admire, amongst many things, how Alaïa talks about how annoying and horrible that is.
Rad Hourani: I think he is definitely one of my favourite people. I love his vision because its unique to himself and he follows his own rules for him, it is about quality and loving what he does for the art of it, he doesn’t do it to please. It is the same thing for Hermès, they have a high standard of quality, and I’m not talking about the collection, I’m talking about the way they do their bags and accessories. It is not a trend, it is a style, it is something that can be forever. These are the people I admire the most because today it is so fast, you see something and tomorrow there is something else. It’s like asking an artist to do a resort collection and a fall collection, it doesn’t work like that. I think there is a process to be a good thing. I don’t think people need all of these clothes.
ASI: I remember interviewing Jason Wu and it feels like he is still a yound brand but he is doing fall/winter, spring/summer, pre-fall, resort, shoes, and handbags and I just feel like ten years ago, when I was graduating from St. Martins, it would be great if you could just manage two collections a year. I know he is established because he did the Obama dress and everything, but it seems crazy that a small brand could be doing so much, and that there’s that pressure to do so much.
RH: But I think the pressure is only there if you want to follow the system and I’m not interested in following the system. I do things without seasons, I give my collection numbers, I don’t give my collections labels like fall/winter, spring/summer, I call them by numbers because I refuse to be referred to seasons or tied to certain times. When I do things, it is not about a trend, it is about a style that belongs to me. What is very important for me is that at the end of the day you see my clothes and you can recognize it from far away without looking at the label, and this has been happening a lot. So now people just see a jacket and they are say “oh, it’s a Rad.”. That’s a very important thing for me, and it is the same thing that I like about Alaïa, you can see it is an Alaïa without touching or when you look at Hermès stuff you can see it is Hermès. And Chanel, even if you like or don’t like their work, you can tell it’s Chanel.
ASI: What I find is interesting with Chanel to is that they control such a great deal of their process. Even the perfume, they have the fields, they don’t do a license and I think that definitely makes them great. They have the ateliers, the bought Broderies Lessage and Fleur Lemarié. We used to work with some of those companies when I worked and Sonia Rykiel and they are amazing craftsmen and it’s so good that Chanel has bought them and protected the craft. And Hermes did a Canadian press thing where they had brought a master craftsman from Paris and she made a bag in each store. She was there for five days each, and it was really amazing to go and see. They had little swatches and let us try doing the saddle stitch.
RH: Yes, I think there is something amazing about that and I’m very excited as well to be working on haute couture because each piece that we make takes at least a week or two weeks to make one piece. So it’s a different process even when you see the collection, it looks very simple but it is extremely complex. All patterns have to be done at least 5 or 6 times., even like sometimes 8, 9 times. With the pattern maker going crazy because it is to the millimeter, everything has been changed and recut and when we do something for the haute couture everything has been recut 5 times, 7 times. But in the main fabric, so we are talking about a $500 meter and that’s what the pieces are cut from. We don’t cut them in the white and toile, we really do it from the same thing. So I’m very excited about haute couture because it’s a different challenge. For the Rad by Rad, that is the ready to wear, yes I want to do a lot of accessories but I don’t think I need 600 shoes. I mean, I need two shoes, I need two sandals, you know what I mean?
Yes, Rad, we know what you mean. We don’t need 600 shoes, and I am very thankful there are people like you refusing to conform the the fast and overloaded fashion system of the present day.
Images from RadHourani.com.