They stood like goddesses, descended from the heavens, beholders gazing in awe. Eyes that held eternity, and breath forfeited; as if death by exquisiteness, had come calling. Such was their divinity and crafted to perfection it seemed God had indeed been skilfully biased. Like warriors of transcending beauty, invading every senses, they were draped in opulent silhouettes, of a bygone time, invoking envy and desire.
“Elements inspired by an artistic era where passion is channelled into objects of beauty and desire, Shakespeare’s theatre gives way to elaborate opera. Ornamental style and fine detailing create rich visuals. Direct, unambiguous, yet theatrical and empowering. Indulgent lifestyles forever embodied through art. Welcome to the twenty-first century baroque.”
Rami Al Ali Autumn/Winter Collection 2012-2013
Fashion couturier, Rami Al Ali dazzled the Parisian city once more with his Autumn/Winter Collection 2012-2013. His baroque-inspired creations paid homage to one of the most spectacular eras in history. Passion, sensuality and complex expressionisms were the empowering elements in each of his designs, iconising the female form into a divine entity through exclusive textures, intricate detailing and stunning authentic embroidery. Ornamental features and the use of luxuriant hues from vintage silver and champagne, to precious gold and bronze on vivid textures of lace, muslin, brocade, and unique metallic tafta; the designs teased and allured the senses, leaving one in a state of an infinite ethereal experience…
The Rami Al Ali couture line always leaves one feeling this way. As if in a midsummer night’s dream with its sheer vulnerability, delicate colour and chic avant-garde. A couture label that celebrates the epitome of divine feminity almost on the verge of religiosity.
Born in Syria, Rami’s interest in the female aesthetics of style and fashion began at a very young age. In 1991 he moved to Damascus to do his degree in Fine Arts & Communication. It was there that he explored the power of his own potential. His phenomenal rise in the industry led to the creation of his own fashion line in 2000. From his signature bridal collections to the exquisite baroque gowns, the Rami Al Ali Woman was sophisticated, intricate, graceful and very refined. Ali’s international fame came in 2009, when his Spring/Summer couture graced the runway at Rome’s AltaRoma couture week. The rest as they say is history. His designs adorned celebrities like Natasha Bedingfield, Vanessa Mae, Ivana Trump, Rosanna Davison, Rachel Smith, Lateefa, et al. In 2009, he was named as one of the top 50 most influential Arabs by The Middle-East Magazine.
The Autumn /Winter Collection 2012-2013 is a culmination of the sum total of Al Ali’s journey. From a small Syrian town boy to the avant garde international fashion designer, Rami Al Ali had indeed come full circle.
In this interview, Arabian Gazette’s Dr. Husna Mohammad learns more about the man behind the exquisite Al Ali designs.
Dr. Husna: The Autumn/Winter Collection 2012-1013 is visually as well as esthetically stunning. What inspired the Baroque designs?
Rami Al Ali: I’ve always been fascinated by the Baroque era in the way that this art form became a way of life across Europe. Everything was influenced by it, from the architecture and fashion right through to paintings and even theatre. I’ve always been most interested in the richness of Baroque represented through intricate detailing – this is element of the theme I adopted, rather than the art form as a whole. I wanted it to influence rather than dominate my line so that I could still keep it modern and light.
From Damascus to Alta Roma, and then Paris Fashion Week-Summer Collection 2012, how has the journey been so far? What were the most inspiring moments?
The journey has been plenty of hard work and perseverance, but ultimately very rewarding. I am now exactly where I envisioned I would be when I began my career in fashion. As a couturier, Paris has always been the goal – it is, after all, where it all began. Each step along the journey has been a significant milestone for me, in particular my first show at Alta Roma in 2009. This was my breakthrough in terms of engaging with the European fashion media. It was after the success of this show that I really felt confident that I could take my dream all the way to Paris.
Is there a feminine ideal that Al Ali couture caters to?
My whole design aesthetic is based on femininity and lady-like elegance. I like to fully embrace the silhouette of a women and accentuate this with clinched-in waists and beautiful flowing lines. My inspiration comes from old-school Hollywood, where the leading ladies were the epitome of glamour and sophistication. Even today they are unbeatable in terms of style icon status.
Does Rami Al Ali have a muse? Do designs take form in your mind in a whim, or is there a method to it?
I have muses, but they range from a lady I may know who I think has impeccable taste, or a theme as a whole that inspires me. I have based collections on cities, artistic eras and even beautiful cultural references. Anything that gets my creative energy flowing can be a muse to me.
How different is it designing for a collection than a customised design for a celebrity?
Designing a collection is a much more intricate process, since each and every gown within the collection has to have a purpose and flow within the theme of choice whilst still remaining a unique creation. Getting the balance right is the hardest part. A single customised gown is a completely different design process since the dress is to cater for a certain person and event. I will usually sit with the client to find out what they are looking for before beginning the design phase.
From a small town boy of Deir ez Zor to the fashion ramps of Paris and Rome, how much has success and celebrity status changed Rami Al Ali ?
I like to think I’m exactly the same person as I always was in regards to my beliefs and the way I treat people. I am still close to family and friends back home so nothings really changed in that respect. I think the main difference is how much I’ve grown as a person and as a designer. I have fantastic opportunities now to learn so much more about the world and experience all it has to offer. My eyes are definitely wide open now.
How has Dubai redefined the fashion industry? Can it give the ultimate platform to aspiring designers from the Middle East, the same way that Paris, New York and Milan does?
Dubai’s is a great place to begin in the fashion industry, since it is the biggest international fashion hub in the Middle East. Some fantastic designers have come from this region and made their way over to the main stages of Paris, New York and Milan based on their support and success in this region.
You were listed among the World’s 50 most influential Arabs. Do you think art and fashion can build bridges between different cultures where politics cannot?
I think art and fashion has a further reach than politics since it transcends all cultures and geographical borders. A designer from one area of the globe can become very influential in another since people love the arts world-over. Politics tend to stay within their own regions.
What is your favourite piece in your Autumn-Winter Collection 2012-2013, though we think each is a poetry in itself.
I struggle to answer this question as each piece within my collection is special to me in its own way. Every design has a place within the theme so I find it difficult to choose just one favourite.
How much does your cultural background influence your designs? What are the elements in your couture design that reflect your heritage?
I always look to somehow infiltrate my heritage into my designs. I like to think of my work as a blend of both East and West, with Western shapes and silhouettes adorned with the intricate Arabesque patterns of my culture. I like to embody Eastern femininity in my designs.
Who is your favourite fashion designer, who has inspired you/still does?
I like modern designers such as Giambattista Valli, who’s vision and feminine approach I admire, and also Victor and Rolf, who use a very smart sense of sarcasm in their approach. In regards to iconic couturiers, I adore Chanel, Dior and Valentino – I love the timeless sophistication their lines embody. I love how each designer has created a signature style which is recognised and aspired the world-over. They are pioneers of the industry.
You have accomplished so much in such a short span. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I would like to continue with my work in Paris and further extend my reach in the European market. It would be my dream to reach the level of success in Paris that I have been lucky enough to experience in this region.
Tell us three things about Rami Al Ali, the man behind the designer, that very few people know.
I wish there were secrets to tell but I don’t really have any. I’m pretty much an open book and those who know me know everything there is to know about me. I like to be transparent and honest.
What message would you like to give to budding fashion designers who admire and follow your work?
I would advise upcoming designers to be prepared to invest the time and effort it takes to really make it in this industry. To be a success you have to first gain respect from the industry. To do this you have to, not only produce great work, but also remain consistent and dedicated. I love my job and that passion comes through in my work.
In today’s world where the modern woman is sometimes confused about her own identity; where the media plays a big part in defining it for her, what advice would you give her?
I think the most beautiful trait a woman can have is her confidence and independence. These women appear effortless and always attract positivity wherever they go. I would advise any woman to nurture these qualities and never feel pressured to conform to a certain ideal. It is the uniqueness of a woman that makes her interesting.
To know more about Rami Al Ali couture, please visit www.ramialali.com
Rami Al Ali atelier is located on Al Wasl Road in Jumeira, Dubai.