“I started imagining clothes the same way I started creating images: with a sense of curiosity and innocence driven by my no-background background.” So says Rad Hourani, whose work is now on display at a solo exhibition in Montreal.
Hourani is a self-taught designer who creates clothes that are, by his description, “sexless, seasonless and timeless” — before everyone else’s were. His designs are marked by architectural shapes and neutral tones, rendered in luxurious leathers, silks and cottons. He has been showing his collections in New York and Paris for the past five years and recently began presenting at the couture shows as a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture.
On Friday, Montreal’s PHI Center opens a multidisciplinary exhibition highlighting Hourani’s work in photography, film and fashion design. “The exhibition illustrates my creative process,” says the designer, who we phoned in Paris, where he lives. “I start by showing how I explored the male and female anatomy to create my unisex vision. Then I display my unisex patrons, a series of black-and-white nudes, images from lookbooks and a documentary about my work. Everything will be black and white.”
There will also be an installation featuring a jacket once worn by DJ Jack Green during a performance at the Tate Modern. Cameras hidden inside the jacket will project images of visitors onto the surrounding walls. Every week, musicians such as folk-pop wunderkind Chris Garneau, Quebecois singer-songwriter Pierre Lapointe and DJ Jack Green will play live sets. And in the pop up shop, Hourani will work with different artists, architects and choreographers to create unique performances and installations.
Hourani says preparing for his exhibit has helped him achieve a deeper understanding of his vision. “Now I really see the mental and physical process of my work,” he says. “I really see how I’ve evolved in my thoughts and as a person. What’s clear is that I have a strong message on the way we live. My work is a reaction to the way we limit things in fashion, religion, gender–all the limits we impose on ourselves. My message is to liberate ourselves from these boundaries; my clothes celebrate total freedom.”
Hourani’s label is younger than most that have been subjects of solo museum exhibitions, like Jean Paul Gaultier and Oscar de la Renta. That he’s already being celebrated in this way is a testament to that strong message and to his influence.