Lebanese designer Rami Kadi is all set to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of his eponymous fashion house. On June 9, Walk of Cairo (WOC) will host the couturier for a fashion show, making it the first time Kadi has been welcomed by the Egyptian pedestrian high street destination. Kadi’s latest SS21 Retrospective 10 collection and a selection of iconic dresses from the FW21 Dessiner le Vide collection, among other exclusive designs, will be presented. Along with the show, there will be an exhibition that commemorates the fashion house’s journey of iconic and unique moments and designs spanning a decade.
The fashion show will be styled by renowned regional celebrity stylist, Yasmine Eissa, whose work has been featured on top regional and international media platforms.
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Speaking to Vogue Arabia about his 10-year anniversary, Kadi shared that the last decade has been one of experimentation, learning, and growth. “We have explored themes ranging from the individual to the collective, inspiring ourselves from festivals, books, films, events, inanimate objects, and many others,” he says. “During those 10 years, we have been fortunate to receive the support of many celebrities and influencers, with whom we retain sincere relations, and to who we are utterly grateful. Similarly, the press has been a supportive force, featuring us in print and on screen, and to those people in the press industry we owe a great deal,” he adds. As such, Kadi believes that it is only natural that the Retrospective 10 collection be dedicated to the 10-year mark, and the event thank all the people that have worked with his fashion house and brought it success.
Kadi expresses his excitement to celebrate the anniversary in the chosen location of WOC, calling it a luxurious space with a beautiful landscape and architecture. “Cairo and Egypt in general have a vast culture and are known well in the fashion and cinema industry, so I’m very excited to be there and have my show there for the first time,” he tells Vogue Arabia. “I’m mostly looking forward to meeting my customers because we’ve never done anything in Cairo,” he adds.
At the early age of 25, in May 2011, Kadi started paving his professional designer career, with the launch of his own showroom and his first atelier in the heart of Beirut. Looking back, Kadi fondly recalls three memorable moments that he considers the highlights of his career. “The first one was in 2014 at the beginning of my career when Myriam Fares wore my design. This built momentum for my career as people started to know about the brand and who I am. The second time was my debut fashion show in Paris, during the couture week, and the third time was when Kendall Jenner wore my design at the Vanity Fair Oscar’s party,” he says. Having had significant international reach and recognition already, Kadi’s eponymous label has also been worn by Rachel McAdams and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
This kind of widespread support was especially crucial in the wake of a majorly heartbreaking setback in Kadi’s, and many other celebrity-loved designers’, career when his atelier was left shattered with broken glass and scattered with fabric after the August 4 explosion in Beirut.
Kadi grappled with the tragedy by launching limited-edition T-shirts embroidered with feminist messages, to support families who were affected by the deadly blast, and a number of celebrities, including Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Kourtney Kardashian, purchased the designer’s shirt to show support for Lebanon.
Just two months after the devastating damage, Kadi and his team bounced back bravely to unveil a new collection laced with poignant hope, the FW21 Dessiner le Vide. He dedicated the collection to the resilience of his country, using the pieces to highlight the holes left by the tragedy. As a proud Arab designer and representative of the Middle East internationally, his goal is to compete with international fashion designers and be at their level, and to be known as an “international Arab designer.”
The designs of the collection to be showcased at WOC were created by digging into years of archives of his work. Ultimately, the selection process was based on two key criteria: signature status and endorsement. The former denotes a dress that can be easily recognized as Rami Kadi Maison de Couture, whether in terms of cut, embroidery, or treatment, while the latter denotes a dress that was worn by a major celebrity or that was met with popular or critical acclaim.
Kadi’s Retrospective 10 label consists of 10 pieces, and in contrast with the chromatic boldness that usually typifies his fashion house, Retrospective 10 bases itself on metallic colors such as gold, silver, platinum, and bronze. While this collection is to go on display in the WOC, Kadi says that his favorite collection so far is Tourbillon Celeste. “It was inspired by a very special experience I had in Venice that’s very close to my heart,” he shares. “I was inspired to recreate it in my own way and the way I dream of it.”
Indeed, Kadi’s decade-long journey in the fashion industry has been like no other, brimmed with defining moments of stardom and vicissitude. Having come a long way since inception, the most notable changes that Kadi has observed in the industry over the years are that most designers are opting for sustainable fashion and cruelty-free materials, using less exotic skin. “The industry is being more environmentally friendly and that’s a good step for the future,” the UN Goodwill Ambassador tells Vogue Arabia. Reminiscent of the time he started out and how he overcame numerous hurdles courageously over the span of his work, Kadi states that ambitious fashion designers and fashion students may dream of a lot, but the industry is not as easy to break into as it may seem. “My advice for aspiring fashion designers is that they need to be up to date of every single detail in this industry and to work really hard to be recognized in the fashion world,” he adds.