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Luxurious Fashion Designs From Rami Kadi

Pink roses hang from the ceiling and there’s a glass bowl of macaroons in the corner. But at Rami Kadi’s eponymous boutique in Clemenceau, what really catches your eye are the stunning creations lining the walls. From dusky pink lacy tops, to floor length gowns in bright jewel shades and sting ray leather and gold purses, the boutique is a sparkling treasure trove. For Kadi, the opening of his own store, was a career landmark, and one which brought with it a lot of pressure. “It was an exciting step, but at the same time to open a shop as big as this one and in this location ... it was a big step,” he says. “I mean, the shop isn’t that big,” he adds, modestly. But for a designer of his age, his successes are not modest. Having studied at the Esmod fashion school in Beirut, Kadi was selected by the Starch Foundation jury (fashion designer Rabih Kayrouz is a member and founder) to showcase his first collection upon graduation in 2008. He then launched his own womenswear brand at a multidesigner boutique in Verdun, before embarking on his independent venture. Kadi, who was born in the U.S. but raised in Lebanon, had been set on a career in fashion since a young age. “I decided to get into fashion a long, long time ago. I was a kid and it started like this. I was interested in colors and in fabrics and in Barbies and everything. This is how I knew that I wanted to be in fashion.” His family and friends have provided a great deal of support to him over the years, as have his regular clients, most of whom are Lebanese, with the rest from other MENA countries. Kadi says he doesn’t design with a specific woman in mind. “The woman who is dressed by Rami Kadi is always very chic and very elegant but very sexy at the same time ... she has a personality and wants to be seen.” “I don’t like her to be shy,” he adds, but it’s hard to imagine a wallflower even walking in to the boutique in the first place. Getting this balance between refined and sensual in the same outfit is a fine art, he says. “I think it is very hard to have a mixture between being showy and being classy,” Kadi says. “To have something very sexy and not vulgar, but it’s in me.” Indeed, his designs manage to do just this. The opaque lacy tops have long sleeves, and the shortest dresses are in neutral colors, the brightest shades reserved for long, flowing numbers. For Kadi, “Lebanese style,” represents a love for the “red carpet look.” By this measure, Kadi is at the most tasteful end of the spectrum, with an attention to detail in the hand stitching and shapes which is evident even from afar. Some of Kadi’s dresses, verging on psychedelic, appear almost surrealist, and indeed he says, designs often appear to him in his dreams, and he sketches them upon waking. Inspiration is also found in “maybe a tree, the design of a balcony.” “You don’t search for inspiration,” he says, rather it comes to you. “Inspiration is something which happens on a daily basis: You eat and you drink and you sleep, this is inspiration, you should always keep your eyes open: When I travel, when I read magazines, when I’m having a coffee and I notice a woman and how she is dressed.” While Starch provided Kadi with a fantastic springboard for his career, he says not everyone in the country is so lucky, and the industry has a lot to do to support young designers. “There are not a lot of resources here, so we must travel abroad to obtain fabrics and everything.” And despite Lebanese couture gaining an impressive reputation on the international stage, the systems to support prĂȘt-a-porter work are lacking in Lebanon. At the moment, Kadi produces a mix of both, with a total of around six to eight collections every year, and a bridal range. In the future, Kadi talks of diversification, and maybe creating a menswear line or a children’s range, or perhaps opening other outlets in the region. But the quality will always remain. “When I do something I like to do it properly or else I don’t do it at all,” he promises.