A symbol of beauty and strength, the orchid is delicate in its nature but bold in its stature. Al Ali illustrates not just the physical beauty of the flower but also the essence of what it represents. It encapsulates the spirit of couture, appearing almost handmade in construction, a concept mirrored in the collections craftsmanship. Each design within the collection brings to light a core focal point that mesmerizes the eye, whether that be a sculptural bow or an exaggerated waist. Strong, architectural silhouettes speak the brand's desire to modernize the traditions of couture through the development of a new design hybrid.
The collections color palette is wildly exotic, vivid bursts of lime green, turquoise, coral and rose add a vivacious zest of life to each design. Traces of translucent shimmer can be credited to the subtle inclusion of gold accents. Meticulous beadwork reveals the makings of a seasoned artisan, the first display mimicking the orchid’s silhouette, the second highlighting texture. Thoughtful bead clusters add a 3D effect, illustrating a likeness to droplets of dew on a petal.
Luxurious fabrics are gathered on an array of structured and softer lines with tulle, organza, muslin, mikado and silk-satin imitating the organic fluidity associated with the orchid. New high-tech engineering was adopted with laser cut fabric arranged in a tessellated pattern to uniquely illustrate a beautiful floral motif on the skirt of one of Al Ali’s masterpieces.
What is for you the best thing about designing fashion?
RAA: I would say its ability to influencer how someone feels. The right look can transform a person, giving them a newfound confidence. Women are my muses; I love to be able to make them feel powerful, strong and confident. Having grown up around four sisters and my mother, I’ve had the privilege of learning the world of women through them. They’ve had a great impact on the brand and are a constant source of inspiration to me.
Who is your client; the person you address with your designs?
RAA: The Rami Al Ali woman is someone that reflects modern-day elegance. She’s international and is both authentic and fearless. She is feminine, independent, and compassionate and values the past while embracing the future.
Your design Ethos.
RAA: My design ethos stems from my Syrian roots. Syrian design is all about focusing on the little details that make up the bigger picture, such as the ornate patterns in mosaics, or the beautiful Arabic shapes in architecture. These historical elements represent the timeless elegance that makes up the underlying characteristics of the Rami Al Ali brand.
Do you have a favorite historical reference that you always return to?
RAA: I’m always moved by architecture – particularly historical Syrian architecture. My father was an architect and taught me the art of drawing, understanding structure and enhancing a 3D imagination. He taught me how to think outside the box and gave me a greater understanding of design. I was able to transfer this influence into my work to help shape my design aesthetic.
How do you design? What form do your earliest ideas for a collection take?
RAA: I usually start by compiling 2-3 themes and create a universe of inspiration for each. From there, I see which I’m most affected by and what inspires my creative vision the most organically. For my SS20 couture collection, the orchid – a concept derived from one of these initial concepts, inspired me. I immediately began creating designs and using references that complimented our brand DNA. I then begin selecting the Pantone colors and working on the first phase of production by experimenting with new silhouettes and structures. Once I have an initial plan, I look to develop the rest of the collection.
Your biggest market.
RAA: I would say the Middle East closely followed by the US. Every market that I sell in is very different and their tastes reflect that. Knowing this, we try to ensure our collections are as diverse as possible so there’s something for every one.
Which fabrics do you love working with?
RAA: I love to experiment with many fabrics to create both soft and strong lines. I like tulle for its fluidity and ability to shape strong forms yet look delicate and light. I also like working with satin and silk organza to create more architectural shapes.
Which traditional techniques do you prefer using in your designs?
RAA: I enjoy the traditions of craftsmanship, paying particular attention to the smallest details. Whether it’s through intricate beading or hand-stitched embroidery, beauty and uniqueness is found in these finer details.
How do you combine the contrast between Eastern and Western designs?
RAA: I like to think there’s something for everyone in my collections. The Middle East is synonymous for its glamour, it’s appreciation for craftsmanship and couture details while the West opt for more daring designs with a little more edge. My design style is somewhat of a hybrid, bringing together these different styles to create something truly unique.
What it means for you personally to be the fashion designer who in his designs builds bridges between two worlds?
RAA: I think all women, no matter their background, are beautiful. Being able to bring these two worlds together with my designs is something really special. We’re living in a world that’s embracing diversity more than ever before and it’s powerful. My aim is to highlight the beauty of the modern-day woman by fusing these two contrasting aesthetics .
What are the things you wished you knew at 19?
RAA: That the road to success is a long one, so be patient.
How do you see the future for couture?
RAA: I think there’s a greater demand for couture now than ever before. In the current fashion climate, the desire to obtain individuality is something still revered. Couture is the ultimate expression of individuality; therefore it allows the industry to continue to flourish.
What advice would you give to those who would like to follow in your footsteps?
RAA: Express yourself, be unique and be original. It takes more than work and effort to achieve success; you have to be really passionate about what you do. It’s also important to stay true to your design philosophy, have confidence in your creations and not to give up.
All Images: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
*This story first appeared in the March 2020 issue of L'Officiel Arabia.