Exclusive: Rami Al Ali talks Dubai, Paris couture and dressing Beyonce
"I'd love to see Dubai become a global fashion hub"
ention the name Rami Al Ali and images of whimsical cuts, couture-laiden creations and a man from the Middle East are conjured up in thought! Born in Syria, Rami made the move to the UAE in 1995 to experience and learn from some of the best designers in the region. Then in 2000 the house of Rami Al Ali was born. A dream that began from an early age is now a prominent part of Paris Fashion Week and the designer's love and passion for couture shines through in everything he creates including his year-young pret-a-porter collection. Here Buro 24/7 Middle East gains a glimpse into the world of Rami Al Ali...
It's been a year since you launched your pret-a-porter range. Looking back would you have done anything differently?
Honestly, I wouldn't have done anything differently. It's been a very exciting journey and we've received an amazing reaction on all the collections. Although it's a different direction and strategy altogether, it has been great to be able to introduce more customers to my brand and become a truly global designer.
You've worked with many celebrities. Tell us about dressing Beyonce and what was she like to work with?
It was definitely an honoUr to dress someone like Beyonce who has a great sense of fashionEspecially that the Rami Al Ali design that she wore appeared in the Mrs. Carter book, which is something that will remain with us forever.
How does it feel to now be such a significant part of Paris Couture Week?
As a couturier, you always dream of showing your work in Paris, so this is a dream come true for me. It's always nerve-wracking anticipating how the collection will be perceived, but that adds to the excitement and it's such a proud moment each season.
Is there a difference in how your collections are received between the Middle Eastern and European markets and why do you think this is?
I have received very positive reactions from both markets. Showcasing in Europe is different because it's a mature industry that's reached its ultimate, many years ago. The Middle East have shown great support since the day I launched my first collection, they took a risk on me when I was just starting out and I credit a lot of my success to that.
What do you love most about your job?
My job is a part of who I am and it's something I have the utmost passion for. When designing, I tend to go into my own special place, which detaches me from reality to create a dream for my customers — it can't get any better than that!
What would you say are the most significant changes in the growing Middle Eastern fashion industry? And what would you like to see change sooner rather than later?
When I first moved here in the late 1990s, it was the beginning of an era in the UAE. The fashion scene was starting to change from that Gulf taste to more of an international one.
Nowadays, there's a lot more projects in place for designers starting out such as Dubai Design District and Fashion Forward — both of which are providing a great platform for new talent in this region. Designers and fashion enthusiasts alike are now taking more risks, and a lot of people are looking for something unique and exclusive, which you can't necessarily get from international brands.
I'd love to see Dubai really become a global fashion hub!
What's been the proudest moment in your design career to date?
There's been so many, but if I had to choose just one then I'd choose the first time I showcased my couture collection in Paris. I can still remember every moment.
Why do you think couture is so admired in the Middle East?
The lifestyle in the Middle East is different. We celebrate our precious moments and our special occasions in a more dramatic manner. Therefore, the atmosphere around it needs to compliment such vivid and intense moments, which is why couture is so appreciated.
Does your childhood and upbringing in Syria and the UAE inspire you in your design inspiration?
Syrian design is all about focusing on the little details that make up the bigger picture, such as the ornate patterns in mosaics, or the beautiful Arabic shapes in architecture. I try and use this idea in my designs by ensuring I always pay very close attention to the finer details. From the fall of the fabric to the placement of a sequin, these features elevate my designs to create something special and unique.
What can we expect next from Rami Al Ali?
We are working on a few collaborations with internationally renowned names, which will be revealed in the near future.
Rami Al Ali boutique is located in Villa 697, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah, Dubai.