Dressing the most stylish celebrities and trendsetters around; Rami Kashou is a name synonymous with drama and flaire, and a name that has become a staple on the most coveted runway shows! Yet things weren’t always this easy! The 43-year-old phenomena was born in Jerusalem and grew up in Ramalllah where he used to sketch designs on his school notebooks and show them to his mother’s friends when they came over. The ladies would then bring beautiful fabric over for Rami to custom-make with the help of the local seamstress. Fast forward to 2019, Kashou has just launched his Spring Summer 2020 ready-to-wear collection along with his first official online shop that ships worldwide thus providing his clients with great accessibility and a more personalised experience. Read below for CIIN’s exclusive interview with the designer.
Moving to the States in 1995 was a major milestone for Kashou as it marked the beginning of the roll out of his exciting career. Kashou worked in retail for a number of years landing a buyer position at a popular clothing boutique in Hollywood which was a favourite amongst celebrity stylists including the stylist of the late R&B artist Aaliyah, who was among the few who had the privilege of wearing Rami Kashou’s earliest pieces which he had designed to be sold at the store. This gradually led the designer to gain popularity among celebrity stylists who would dress their clients for the red carpet in Rami Kashou designs. According to Kashou, this, combined with the support of his parents and his unbreakable faith, as well as his flexibility to roll with the unexpected punches of the design industry were instrumental to his success and he would be eternally grateful.
When asked about his latest collection Rami explained that there is a sense of ease about this collection that was inspired by the designer’s move to New York a few years back. The styles are diverse and are intended to express different sides to the woman wearing his designs “one day she may want to wear a mini dress with shoulder pads and a fantasy cape, while on another day she may choose to present herself in a less serious printed mini skirt and a cropped wrap summer top.” Rami explained. Inspired by bold playful prints, this collection was intended to merge statement pieces with a sense of functionality and ease. A woman in a fast paced city catching the bus, has places to go and things to do can do so practically and fashionably as well. This collection is about these go-to statement pieces that style themselves easily and at the same time can be mixed and matched, worn in different ways and are timeless. Among Rami’s favourite pieces are the “Noor dress” a pleated edgy, flirty and playful white dress that resembles some type of exotic bird. The “Ana” dress is a sexy dress with classic and romantic renditions; the three dimensional draping gives off the illusion of a dress slipping off your body. Another favourite is the “Iman” vegan leather tote because it’s cool, can be worn over the shoulder or folded in half as an oversized clutch and can fit a weekend’s getaway worth of items. Rami also loves the “FIDAA” pants because he believe that everyone needs a beautiful cotton printed pair of pants; they can be paired with the simplest top, shoes and voila, you are styled and ready to walk out the door with a statement piece!
Kashou’s first collection on the other hand, was a series of deconstructed designs from knits and woven fabrics with intentionally frayed hems, textured hand stitches and braided techniques that at the time were well received because they had an unusual artistic spirit that people appreciated. Eventually Rami began to design collections and offer size runs. His designs evolved to become both constructed and draped garments. Years later after gaining the required experience, Kashou ventured into evening wear and custom bridal gowns which he still does today. Along the years Rami worked with several well-known brands and for the past four years Kashou worked on launching a design project where he custom designs for clients who are seeking something sentimental, traditional yet with a modern twist.
I design for a global individual, someone who is cognisant of the world around her, enjoys art, believes in romance and appreciates a timeless fit, attention to detail, and the balance between classic ideas reinterpreted through modern design. She may have a busy life and not care to spend hours getting ready but still wants to feel special and present herself in a stylish way.” Kashou explains when asked about the Kashou woman.
When asked about his achievements along the years Rami feels that he was fortunate enough to have showcased his collections in Los Angeles and New York City and this gave him the right exposure to acquire the sponsorship of organizations that offer visibility and a platform for independent designers; amongst these sponsorships have been Gen Art Fresh Faces, Mercedes Benz, American Express, and his appearance as a finalist and runner up on Project Runway.
For a self-taught designer we have to admit that this is not so bad at all! Kashou believes that the hands-on approach to learning has helped him develop his unique sense of style. He admits that going the conventional education path must have its advantages but he’ll always be grateful to the industry ladies who taught him everything he knows! “There are positive things that come from unconventional learning; the freedom and ability to color outside a defined frame. For me that is how my skill and passion for draping evolved, the inspiration to create three dimensional designs without the confinement of flat patterns, side seams, darts and drafter lines which can sometimes take away from the fluidity of the draping process.” Rami explains.
This has helped him set himself apart from other designers on the market. “I believe that when I design with intention the right people will continue to find my brand. What sets my work apart from the rest at this time is that I am willing to go against the grain of fast fashion which is over saturating the markets. I am an advocate of environmentally friendly design which means that each style is made-to-order therefore reducing environmental waste that turns into landfill in developing countries. My designs are available as a limited addition therefore someone who is investing in a piece from the collection is aware that they have something more personalized and special. In addition to that I am highlighting something that is currently missing in our industry which is the connection between client and designer. I am opening up the dialogue between the customer and the designer where they can access feedback before shopping an item or style, I think people value human interaction.” Rami explains in his own words.
When asked about his thoughts concerning the Middle Eastern Market in general and women in particular, Kashou believes that Middle Eastern women were always known to enjoy fashion, additionally the evening-wear business is quite successful due to the nature of the Middle Eastern culture that is full of diverse events. On top of that Kashou is excited to witness the development of the Middle Eastern street style which is inspiring a new generation of artists and designers. He hopes that the platform for independent Arab designers in the region can expand in support of new design labels and alternative fashion design because there is a growing need for it. This was also quite evident for him when he visited Beir Zeit University and participated in an enriching dialogue with a new generation of aspiring designers. He also mentored a group of Palestinian designers in collaboration with AM. Qattan Foundation two years ago and to see the creative development of the students by the end of their time together was both heartwarming and rewarding. For him it almost felt like a homecoming, a reconnection with his Palestinian roots and his childhood when these opportunities where absent.
Finally when asked about the advice he would give the ladies Rami said the following…
- How you feel in an outfit is as important as how you look in it, they go hand in hand and it shows… so pay attention to how you are feeling while you try something on.
- Watch “The True Cost” documentary, it is educational and will open your eyes beyond imagination. It will explain where cheap clothes actually come from and who is paying the price.
- Even if in your mind you are convinced that a certain style will not work on you try it on anyways, it’s free and you may change your mind.
- Judge each piece by its individual design and not by the label attached to it.