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With a background growing up in Jordan, Montreal and later Paris, and a creative career spanning styling, film direction, photography, graphic design and most recently fashion, chic new designer on the block, Rad Hourani, is proving his talents are as multi-faceted as his upbringing. Launching his self-titled label in 2007 in Paris, Hourani set out to create an androgynous, unisex and effortlessly wearable line for men and women who connect with his, he says, “timeless aesthetic, free from any gender restrictions.” With his lean, stark and edgy AW09 collection now in store, and his diffusion Rad by Rad Hourani just launched in New York, the young designer sheds some light on what makes his Rad world go round with

What is the story behind your label – how and why did it begin?

Rad Hourani: The plan of launching my own label had been in the back of my mind for a long time, but I just didn't feel ready for it five years ago. Styling is great to learn how to use clothes, and more importantly, if you have an ambition to design, it's a great way to see how things are constructed and marketed – especially for someone who never went to design or fashion school like me. It probably took longer than a degree, but I learned way more and I got the bonus of knowing a lot of great people who support me today.

When did you realise you wanted a life in fashion?

Hourani: When I was a child, my mother would take me every week to her dressmaker so we could choose the fabrics and designs for her next outfit. I started giving my opinions on it pretty early on. I was born in Jordan and my dad moved back to Montreal in Canada when I was 16. I moved to Paris five years ago and that's where it all started; the inspiration, the vision for my line, the sketching, the direction and the real debut. It took a few months to organise everything.

You are involved in many creative fields – what is your background and are you still involved in film and art?

Hourani: I graduated from high school and shortly after started scouting for a modelling agency, then one thing led to another and I ended up working full time as a stylist. I never went to design school – I never went to any school after high school. I do everything myself and combine my creative interests. It is all part of my aesthetic statement and getting my message across. It is a complete vision that I am trying to apply to all areas of my work – from clothing design to graphics to video to photography and editing. Making film is an important part of my process, from the clothes themselves to photography, graphic design, and web layout. In other words, all of the mediums influence one another to a certain extent.

You have a philosophy to create clothing influenced by: “No school, no teachers, no boundaries. Clothing erupted from this world of mine, they are asexual, aseasonal. They come from no place, no time, no tradition.” Could you expand on the driving concepts behind your label and process?

Hourani: Circumstances have brought me to move around from an early point in my life, and I've felt compelled to continue doing so, for this experience has made me consider things in a wider perspective, with no restrictions. I want to convey this notion through my line, and design clothes that can be worn anywhere by anyone, anytime. My collection is intended to be unisex. Beauty is everywhere, yet perfection is nowhere.

Who do you see as your customer?

Hourani: : I design from a virgin point of view, trying to elude classical ready-to-wear rules that make us believe that women and men deserve different approaches. My pieces are timeless and free from any gender restrictions and I hope to reach people who do not define themselves

primarily as men or women, who go beyond the classical demographic criteria; people who appreciate a certain sobriety, yet who want to look effortlessly glamorous at all times.

How do you actually create your clothing – what inspires you?

Hourani: I believe that using what I would like to wear as a starting point is the most honest and straightforward approach. It allows me to stay focused on my aesthetic statement and also assess my commitment to wearability, functionality and comfort. I carry a mental notebook all the time with me, where I make notes at any time of the day. I can be inspired by someone on the street, or by a book, or a discussion.

What was the basis for your AW09 collection?

Hourani: I am attached to the notion of purity, and by using simple, stark lines I strive to blur gender boundaries. My designs are confident and powerful, sort of like a weight-less armour. I want to make clothes that give the wearer a bold presence without looking contrived or overdone. I do not start every new season with a specific theme or concept, but rather try to establish continuity from one to the next.

The mood in this collection was pretty dark – why did you choose a stark, monochrome palette?

Hourani: Black is mysterious, chic, slick, modern and eternal. I chose style over fashion as I'm allergic to trends. The collection was about long, straight, sharp, black, sleek silhouettes and geometric shapes that, by the use of noble, fluid materials, come alive through the movement of the wearer. I do want to get my message across as clearly as possible, to touch the right audience. I don’t need to be the one who makes the boldest statement every season, I’d much rather commit to my personal aesthetic and that of the people who like to wear my clothes, and if I end up using all black for a collection, why not.

What has been the biggest highlight of having your own label so far?

Hourani: I must say that I think a great deal about myself when designing. Of course I didn't create a brand just for my own sake, but I believe that using what I would like to wear as a starting point is a straightforward approach. I wear my own clothes because I want to feel how another person would feel in them.

What can we expect to see from you throughout the rest of the year – and can you let us in on your upcoming SS10 collection?

Hourani: Fashion for me is about clothing transcending simple functionality and gaining symbolic, evocative power by engaging in a dialogue with their environment. It's a tool for self-expression and self-invention, and I want people to be able to afford my line, and this is why I just launched a second line called RAD by Rad Hourani, based on the same aesthetic, but with a touch of casual, urban wear to it, which will be available online this November.

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