Amid the centuries-old couture houses in Paris, Rami Al Ali is a relative newcomer, having first announced his presence at Paris Haute Couture Week in 2012. Ten seasons later, the Syrian-born designer has not only secured the patronage of celebrity clients, but also validated his status as a force to be reckoned with.
For Fall 2016 Couture, Al Ali looked to decorative Mosaic arts, which originated in the Middle East, to outfit his hourglass gowns and trouser/cape combinations. While his Syrian heritage has often played a part in his designs, it takes an expert eye to notice that the glittering embellishment in his collection acted as a metaphor for what the show notes called, “the sovereignty of the collective over the individual and a reflection of our lives in society”. On its surface, at least, this collection was another exquisitely wrought exercise in couture craftsmanship, but Al Ali meant for each embroidered crystal bead to represent a constellation of possibility and what it might mean to belong to a very elite sector of society. In other words, these ensembles are as aspirational as it gets.
Al Ali meant for each embroidered crystal bead to represent a constellation of possibility.
For the cocktail hour, Al Ali showcased tea-length frocks with bustier bodices and extremely sophisticated tailored trousers paired with extravagant tulle capes. Both Armani and Chanel showed couture trousers as well, signaling the acceptance of this practical wardrobe piece into the upper echelons of fashion. Full-skirted looks featuring mosaic-tile embellishment and waterfall ruffles cut a sublime silhouette for evening, with midnight-blue versions that drew appreciative comments from the audience. With a small 16-piece collection, every look has to make an impact – especially considering the amount of time it takes to craft each one by hand.
While Rami Al Ali isn’t leading the Middle Eastern couture brigade with avant-garde collections that rewrite the laws of couture, his talent lies in reliably producing focused, elegant designs that stand the test of time.
Video: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali