Interview with couture designer Rami Kadi

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Continuing from my last blog post, here is my exclusive interview with Lebanese couture designer Rami Kadi.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

The woman I design for is a woman living a normal life in today’s world, but who stands out with her elegance and grace. She has something about her that turns head wherever she goes, leaving a trail of seduction and mystery behind. she’s a woman who blows life into the garment she is wearing.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

What are your favorite fabrics to work with and where are they sourced from?

My choice of materials/fabrics depends on both the trend and my mood, and is not specifically limited to one type of material.


The silhouettes of your couture pieces are to be marveled at. Are the constructions of such a great challenge?

Of course it is a challenge. If I don’t challenge myself I will never evolve. In fact, it is essential for my pieces to have great cuts, it is a part of my signature.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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How do you decide on your theme for each collection? Do they all have a story to tell?

In terms of creativity and inspiration, the world around me has always been a rich source of inspiration; it provides me with flashes of creativity all day long, from the moment I wake until I go to bed, and sometimes even in my dreams.

Anything can be inspiring, the music I listen to while I’m driving, interaction with people, when I’m relaxing at the beach, or reading magazines, watching other designers fashion shows, etc.

Another major source of inspiration is obtained while traveling, visiting new countries and getting acquainted with new cultures and fashion salons…

Inspiration is not only limited to my day-to-day activities, it can also be found in my dreams! I always dream about dresses or shapes and I wake up in the middle of night to draw them, and go back to sleep.
Each of my collection has a specific story and it is from that story that emerges the whole collection.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

As an example my latest collection tells the story of a sleeping beauty who wakes up from an ever long sleep and finds her self within the confines of a sumptuous castle. It is with mixed feelings of surprise, and astonishment that the gracious princess walks through the aisles of the palace, and discovers a place glowing with royal opulence and yet holding an air of modernity.

How are your feelings towards exhibiting at Dubai’s Fashion Forward this year?

I am really excited to present my new collection there, especially that it is taking place in the big hall that seats about 1000 people. It is always an accomplishment when I get to the point of the runway show.

Your collections often have some very strong fairytale elements to it. What intrigues you about fairytales in particular?

I have always loved fairytales. They leave so much place for imagination and creativity. There are so many fabrics that can be used around the theme to express the romance, the magic and most of all the royal feel.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

If you could choose any historical figure, factual or legend, from the likes of Cleopatra to Lady Godiva, to be the face of your new collection who would it be and why?

I would go for The queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, an artist who masters the art of seduction and whose fashionism and attitude captivated me long ago. There’s something about Dita that glows with elegance and captivates everyone around her. She is the kind of women who turns heads wherever she goes.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Rami Kadi - Runway - Fashion Forward Dubai April 2014

Courtesy of Getty Images

Courtesy of Getty Images

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Fashion Illustrator Hatty Pedder

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Ok, I have to confess … I have a crush. An “art crush” that is, on Dubai based illustrator Hatty Pedder.

British born Hatty had studied in the UK at Central St Martins in London. She has exhibited her illustrations in numerous international locations such as Frankfurt and Mumbai, as well as working on a myriad of illustrated projects and commissions in Dubai as well.

When I first came across her illustrated column “Caricouture” in Time Out magazine, the first thing that struck me most about her work was her amazing confidence in lines.

A sense of chic simplicity is something I really admire from a lot of illustrators such as David Downton and Jaqueline Bisset. As someone who has a habit of putting in tonnes of detail into my own work, I love how Hatty’s lines have so much variation in weight and there is such a fresh sense of spontaneity.

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Moreover, she gets right to the point. Hatty doesn’t faff about with excessive lines, too much colour or detail. She knows exactly how to use JUST the right amount of information to keep her illustrations retaining a very distinguishable character and style. Her work is always fresh, unique and with a dash of mystery, leaving people (like me) craving more. Just feast your eyes on these!

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love love LOVE this one! Look at the hustle and bustle happening in the kitchen.

Love love LOVE this one! Look at the hustle and bustle happening in the kitchen.

See what I mean? The random (but very deliberate) splashes of colours, the quirky, stylised characters and just the all around “cool” factor. She’s really a master at capturing her environment and one can easily gauge at a glance what the ambience was like at each event.

In fact, her technique and impulsive strokes remind me a lot of one of my favorite illustrators, Quentin Blake who, as we all know, illustrated for Roald Dahl books.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Hatty for the blog so she can tell us a little bit more about her techniques, her inspirations and a bit about her solo show at Mojo gallery.

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How long have you been doing illustration for? When did it all start?

I studied at Central Saint Martins in London, where I gained a degree in Graphic Design and specialised in illustration. My journey into the land of illustration began 20 years ago. My first commission was for Conde Nast in London, where I worked before heading out to Dubai.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from everywhere – fashion, people, life style, Art Nouveau, Pop Art and a wealth of other sources buried in my subconscious.

How does the illustration/art scene in Dubai differ from other countries you have worked in? Are there any advantages to working as an artist in the UAE?

The whole art scene here has evolved so much in Dubai in the last decade with the boom of the Art Dubai Fair and all the magazines, events and galleries. With the internet and being able to work remotely I think you can now be located anywhere. Being in Dubai with all its amazing events and fashion events definitely for the way I personally work always provides me with huge reference material.

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You are quite specialised in commercial art, yet your work still appeals to the contemporary ambiance of a fine art gallery. This is a very challenging thing to do and most artists find they have to either market themselves as a conceptional artist i.e painter/installations OR a commercial artist (graphic designer, illustrator) How did you successfully merge the two together? Do you have to tweak your work accordingly when doing exhibitions as compared to commercial projects?

This is an interesting question I get asked a lot. I regard my illustration as answering a brief. The commissions that I take on are only ones suited to my style and tend to be in the fashion and life style genre. Whenever I am answering a brief I am communicating the clients vision, and I have to find a way to achieve the correct tone and message whilst keeping myself and style in the final piece or pieces. I find breaking up my personal painting with touches of illustration work refreshing, stimulating and sometimes puts me out of my comfort zone which I enjoy. I have also started recently doing life drawing at VIP events which I love.

My personal art which I exhibit is where I solely express myself and is totally derived from own inspirations. I love to visit new countries to gather fresh inspiration, from which I create collections on different cities. I also take on private commissions for some of my collectors. My work is always derived from people and life style, and combines photography, photomontage and mixed media. I feel very fortunate to have found a balance between Artist/Illustrator.

What is your favorite medium to use and do you experiment with elements of a prefered digital medium too, like photoshop?

My favourite medium to work in is mixed media – which I play with and can keep adding new materials to the mix.
I only use photoshop when I am involving photography in my work. For my illustration I tend to scan or shoot my artwork, and if required make any tweaks in photoshop afterwards.

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You have such a great line quality and energy with your live drawings that you create from events. Is it very challenging to capture that ambiance with minimal line and time constraints? How do decide which lines are important for your gestural illustrations and is this something you’ve perfected with years of experience?

My blog Caricouture http://www.hattypedder.com/blog which I shared with Time Out, was all created from photographs I took whilst attending the events, and then created afterwards. These are very spontaneous pieces and I love doing them as they keep my hand free. For this series I used a dip pen which I use in all my work.

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I love the innovative rich way you’ve used mixed media in your work at your solo show. It’s almost like the 3D layering of material gives your art pieces the impression that they’ve been “built” rather than drawn. Tell us about your solo show, your ideas behind the concept and a bit about your unique technique.

My latest exhibition “KOSH BOSH!” is inspired by Beirut and is currently on at The Mojo Gallery. This collection was inspired by a series of trips I made to Beirut and all the contrasts with in the city. This series was more conceptional than my previous exhibitions, and more experimental in materials. I used aluminium, neon plexi, car mirrors, acrylic sheets combined with photography and my strong linear ink work mixed with acrylic paint and water colours.

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And finally do you have any words of wisdom for young illustrators out there who are just starting out in this field?

Only stay true to yourself – follow your passion and work hard!