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Rad Hourani and the Phi Centre make for the perfect fit

Calling all style mavens! On November 1st, the Phi Centre and fashion favourite Rad Hourani plan to unveil their collaborative, month-long, multidisciplinary event, Rad Hourani: Seamless – 5 Years of Unisex Creation. This exhibition and retrospective will look at the work, creative process and influences of Hourani, an extraordinary wunderkind on the international fashion and art scenes. Earlier this year, Hourani rocketed into the illustrious ranks of Parisian haute couture with his presentation of the first unisex show in fashion history. Nightlife.ca recently sat down with the self-described visualist for an illuminating chat on all things stylish and Phi-lish.

Nightlife.ca: How did this collaboration with the Phi Centre come about?
Rad Hourani: I met Phoebe Greenberg [Director and Founder of the Phi Centre] through my friend Renata Morales, who introduced me to Phoebe’s son Miles, who was wearing my clothes at 14 years of age. In March, I was shown the Phi Centre by Phoebe, and we had the idea of curating an exhibit. This multi-disciplinary centre is a reflection of myself, really, because I don’t consider myself a designer or a photographer or a filmmaker or any category with limitations. When I found out what the Phi Centre was about, it was a perfect fit. I have wanted to do something in Montreal for the past six years, but nothing has ever felt right. I didn’t necessarily want to do a runway show, because I don’t consider myself just a designer, and I didn’t want to do just a photo exhibit, because I’m not just a photographer. The Phi Centre is kind of a like a reflection of myself as a space. It was like the perfect marriage! And now, after nine months of working together, a baby is born on November 1st!

Besides a retrospective of your designs, what can the public expect from Rad Hourani: Seamless?
We’re creating a pop-up shop in collaboration with different artists. All the artists are from Montreal, because it was important for me to do a Montreal event, to thank Montreal in a way. For the pop-up, I’ve invited Gilles Saucier, the architect to do a “Rad House”, Édouard Lock from La La La Human Steps to do a choreography that I’ve filmed, Renata Morales the designer, Leela Sun the artist, and musicians such as Pierre Lapointe and Mekele to do an exclusive, limited edition album that will be available on site. Also featured will be a collection of exclusive items I’ve designed that are made in Montreal. They’ll be available in limited edition exclusively at the pop-up all month.

Though you’ve lived and worked all over the world, how has Montreal shaped you as an artist?
From the time of my adolescence and my first experience of life up here, I really began to know myself as an adult. There’s a mentality in Montreal, a way of being and an open-mindedness that I’ve brought with me worldwide.

Let’s talk about the words “unisex” and “androgynous” for minute. What do those words mean in the 21st century, when there is so much mixing and matching of form and style between the genders?
I’m not trying to do something androgynous or gothic or rock or a style that is specific. What I’m trying to do is create garments that are free of any limitations. So when I show my catwalk, my models are long and lean and I dress them in a way that is more architectural rather than being more sexy or boyish. For me, that is my way of communicating a neutralism on the runway. My clothes are free from any reference of masculine or feminine; they are meant to elongate the body, meant to give the body a form that will protect it comfortably. My question has always been, “who decided that a man should be dressed in a certain way, that a woman should be dressed in a certain way?” We all have the masculine and feminine in all of us. We all have the yin and the yang, the light and the dark, the slow and the fast in us, and I think it is everyone’s choice to be whatever they want to be.

Credit: Steven Chu

Lastly, what strikes you about Montrealers and their fashion, style and aesthetic?
Well, I must say something—I like your style and I like your look! You have a great style and look!

Oh! Thank you!
However, when I am in Montreal, most of the time I’m in the office. On the weekend, I go to the country house, with my friends. Otherwise, I stay at my place to rest. I’m rarely in the streets, or in public places where I can see people. I have great stylish friends here, and I think there is good style and bad style everywhere in the world. But Montreal has some stylish people, for sure. And hopefully, I’m going to see them all during the month of November, because I am reserving my whole month of November to be here at the Phi Centre.

Rad Hourani: Seamless – 5 Years of Unisex Creation
November 1–30 at the Phi Centre
November 14 concert: Pierre Lapointe & Chris Garneau
November 29 concert: Jacques Greene and Mekele