The Couturier: Rami Al Ali
Fashion designer and entrepreneur Rami Al Ali talks about attracting clients all over the world through detail and bespoke couture production.
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"Attention to detail has been my philosophy from the beginning."
"The opportunity to wear something bespoke and unique is always a key factor that draws a client to couture. Choosing eveningwear can be a difficult task, as you want something striking but elegant which is comfortable enough to wear throughout the entire evening. Feeling confident in a dress is so important because it changes the way you carry yourself and how you walk into a room," says fashion designer and entrepreneur Rami Al Ali.
This year, he is marking the 15th anniversary of his eponymous label that can now claim some of the world's most sought-after faces as having appearedin his gowns, including international socialite Ivana Trump. In terms of the impact of celebrity affiliation to his designs, Al Ali says that "there needs to be a balance between commerciality and creativity, and I think celebrities can help bridge the gap. I will always be grateful to the regional Middle Eastern celebrities who took a chance on me when I was starting out as a small fashion house– they gave me some much-needed coverage in the media at the time. This paid off commercially as it led to a boost in clients, paving the way for me to dress international A-list stars such as Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez, to name just a few."
Nine years after the launch of the Rami Al Ali label, the designer presented his work at Rome's AltaRoma couture week which proved to be his gateway to the European market, garnering him significant attention from that region's fashion press. In this region, Al Ali's work is revered, and he gradually accumulated a client roster of the who's who in society- and this means exacting and time-intensive personalized attention. "I first showed in Paris in 2012. Since starting my own line in 2000, it's always been my ambition to show in the couture capital alongside the greats, as to be recognized as an international designer you have to be amongst them. Commercially, this has boosted my profile and brought in clients from Asia and further afield," adds Al Ali. That first show in France was alongside global fashion Houses like Chanel, Dior and Valentino, helping to secure Al Ali's position as a world-class designer.
Digital marketing savvy has made Al Ali's pieces known outside of the exclusive and elite couture circle as well, and he adds that "social media is a key tool in establishing and increasing brand awareness. These days everyone is on Instagram or Twitter; it transcends age, social status and income. It's a great way to showcase my label and reach all my potential clients, whether they are interested in couture, ready-to-wear or bridal." Currently, Rami Al Ali has a significant web presence with highly active social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, showcasing some of the designer's work, shows, and high profile clients wearing his designs.
"My couture collection is made to order, taking into account specifications of each client and tailored by hand to fit perfectly, whereas the Pret-a-Porter collection is made on a larger scale using industrial techniques and more accessible materials. As a result the price ranges are very different– couture is always priced on request because each individual dress requires different components, fabric and time allocation depending on the client and their needs." Over the years, Al Ali has drawn inspiration from the natural world, and even from masterpiece paintings like Sir John Everett Millais' Ophelia and The Kiss by Gustav Klimt. During the regional release of Al Ali's Klimt-inspired collection, each member of the press went away with a book featuring Klimt's paintings.
"As soon as one couture collection is launched, I begin thinking about the next. I decide on a theme, research it thoroughly, create mood boards and sketches and then go on to the actual making of each gown. Of course each dress depends on the material, amount of embellishment and how simple or complicated the style is, but as a rough estimate it takes around six to seven months from inspiration stage to the final, finished collection." Al Ali's bridal range, a favorite of socialites and the well-heeled, is extremely intricate. Referring to himself as a perfectionist, Al Ali ensures that each of the gowns is proceeded by an in-depth consultation, followed by a process that keeps his label's clients reassured with his minute attention to detail- from embellishments and choice of fabrics, to the actual final fit of the often one-off creation.
"Whether a client is buying a custom wedding gown or a dress from my couture collection, everything about the Rami Al Ali service is bespoke and tailored to their needs. Couture production is different because everything is made by hand and made to order. Each detail or embellishment is added individually which takes time, precision and talent– no shortcuts can be taken."