Ahlan! Chats Rami Al Ali on Britney Spears, Paris Fashion Week and Sarah Jessica Parker
With the likes of Beyoncé and Britney Spears wearing his gowns, Rami Al Ali is the Middle East’s hottest fashion export. Originally from Syria, he founded his fashion label, Rami Al Ali Couture, straight out of college and has since gained a loyal following worldwide, showing his gorgeous collections at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week for five seasons now and, fresh from his Spring/Summer 2014 sojourn, he let Ahlan! in on his style secrets.
You’ve dressed some amazing celebs. How do you choose the outfits?
I’ve been fortunate enough to dress A-list starlets including Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, Rachel Bilson and Kelly Osbourne, to name just a few. My team works closely with celebrity requests. Often they’ll come to us with an idea of what they’re looking for and we’ll help them choose styles that suit their figures. It’s then a case of fittings to get the right result.
Is there anyone else you’d love to dress?
I think Sarah Jessica Parker has a great sense of style. She looks amazing in couture and I’d love to see her in one of my dresses.
You’ve just shown your collection at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. How did it go?
I wanted to showcase my designs a little differently this season, so I chose to do an installation. This meant that the audience could get closer to the clothes. This is my fifth season in Paris, which you think would make it easier, but no season’s unveiling is without last-minute tweaks.
What was your inspiration?
The inspiration behind my S/S14 collection was a painting of Shakespeare’s tragic heroine Ophelia by John Everett Millais. I’m a great fan of art and I fell in love with this painting. I was particularly inspired by Millais’ ability to create something beautiful from a dark subject, and I wanted to recreate that.
Who was on the frow at your show?
The front row included Russian supermodel Victoria Bonya, jewellery designer Ramona Agruma and Carine Roitfeld’s team. There were also a lot of high-society ladies, as well as the Netherlands’ Princess Elna Margret of Bentheim and Steinfurt. They are all very loyal and are present at each new season unveiling.
What effect do you think Fashion Forward is having on the industry in Dubai?
I think there have been a lot of exciting developments within the Middle Eastern fashion industry over the past few years. Fashion Forward provides a great platform for home-grown talent to showcase their work and it’s a driving force that will hopefully see talent in this region go on to compete with international designers.
Are there any up-and-coming designers we should look out for?
Yes, Bashar Assaf – a Lebanese designer who experiments with modern designs and unique cuts.
Which UAE mall do you like the most?
The Dubai Mall, as it has everything under one roof. There are great places to eat and it has the perfect combination of designer and high street stores.
Who is your favourite designer?
Valentino. I love what the whole team is achieving.
Which celebrity’s style do you love?
I would love to have been able to dress Hollywood starlets such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. The fashion during their era was so glamorous and sophisticated, and the designs emphasised the female silhouette with cinched-in waists and full-bodied skirts.
Which celebs do you think get it wrong?
No one can get it right all of the time and I’ve definitely witnessed some celebrity style mishaps. The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to fashion is to choose styles that suit your shape. Not every new season trend will flatter everyone, so it’s vital to know what works for you and what doesn’t.