For his second presentation during Paris Fashion Week, Lebanese designer Rami Kadi, whom we last reviewed during Season 3 at Fashion Forward, was keen to make an impact. Showing in a salon lined with gold molding at the recently renovated Plaza Athénée, the soft-spoken designer featured a lineup of 15 looks on mannequins to international press and faces of fashion including Diala Makki, Samar Seraqui de Buttafoco, Naty Abascal, Razane Jammal, and Myriam Fares.
Kadi explained to Style.com/Arabia that he was drawn to the various crises in the world and wished to express this via a collection that featured polarizing details. The dresses consisted of slender strips of fabric or stitches constructed to create graphic and hypnotic shapes. Two looks featuring gladiator strip skirts caught the light in such a manner that they appeared to have electric energy run right through them. These hologram strips were also woven to create cap sleeves and were a highlight—literally—for they caught and played with the light even from a stagnant position.
But the majority of the black and white dresses, with ‘50s silhouettes and full circle skirts were very heavy, stiff, and rough to the touch. The fabric, which was for the most part PVC and metallic threads, was undoubtedly very difficult to work with—and, from what we’ve been told, very time consuming to create (taking up to six weeks per dress)—but they did not necessarily make for the stuff of couture dreams. And although Kadi demonstrated meticulous beading, women from our region are accustomed to the full-package couture gamut consisting of taffeta and tulle, pearls and glass beads, lace and silk chiffon, and demand that couture be a reverie of softness, femininity, and lightness—not an exercise in bringing third world and economic crises to the forefront via tailoring.
Furthermore, reflecting on this presentation, this editor couldn’t help but wonder, “Who is Rami Kadi?” Edgy, explorative designer as this collection implies? Aspiring couturier of the Cinderella princess dress as showcased at Fashion Forward in Dubai? Or, ambassador of the Orient as proposed with his first Paris offering? And while there is nothing more exciting than seeing a designer stretch his mind to explore his creative potential, to some extent he must maintain a consistent language, or otherwise risk having a one-sided conversation with the woman he is designing for—and, lost in translation, she will look elsewhere. To be seen if Kadi finds his niche.