Randy Rahm pressed her face against the huge plate glass window atop The Pinnacle building, overlooking the lights and life of downtown Nashville. She was pensive, thinking about the fashion show about to begin, the very prestigeous finale to this year’s Nashville Fashion Week. Those tiny, moving figures below were unaware of the dramatic display of sequins, embroidery and curve hugging silk they would be missing out on, as Randi Rahm, undisputed Queen of Red Carpet Glamour, was soon to show her line of breath-taking gowns.
The show began, as gorgeous models glided down the runway in hand-beaded, and often embroidered, one-of-a-kind pieces, fit to perfection. The audience cheered as each glamorous style appeared on the runway, culminating in a most well-deserved standing ovation.
Earlier that week, Dish Magazine had a chance to talk one-on-one with Rahm, a New York native, as she prepared to show her stunning collection of evening wear. She shared her thoughts on art, design and the disadvantages of fame in a surprisingly charming Long Island accent.
There are many things about Rahm to admire, but one of the most admirable is her ability to remain true to herself, even while under the scrutiny of a roomful of highly critical, and sometimes even downright mean fashionistas. Whether the self-proclaimed perfectionist is creating a couture garment for a special client, or working on an entire line, she’s always sure not to lose sight of what impassioned her in the first place.
“I try to be true to myself,” she explained, “I don’t follow trends. I just do what’s in my heart as an artist, what I feel is right. I deal mostly one on one with clientele, and every person that walks in to my studio, they’re my most important person at the moment. They’re my blank canvas that I am creating my next masterpiece for. They’re my inspiration.”
I wondered how that might change when she’s trying to create an entire line, dreaming up an entire collection of detailed, timeless gowns, with no single person in mind?
“When I’m creating an actual line, where there’s not an individual, something is inspiring me in different pieces or different sections of my line. I always say, ‘I don’t really have a line; I have a collection that is ongoing all the time because fashion should never go in and out of style.’ I say, ‘You should be fashion conscious, not fashion victims.’ So, if someone bought a Randi Rahm 20 years ago, this is a good thing and a bad thing. They will still be wearing it today. To which I say, ‘Oh My Gosh, I have to do something so that they buy another one.’ But I offer perpetual care, and clients can bring the dress back for me to fix, which is lovely. I feel with whatever money that you’re spending, you should love what you’re wearing, and it’s who you are. You don’t change that much. The only thing that might change is age appropriateness or a body change.”
Interestingly, Rahm did not always appear destined to become the highly sought-after fashion designer she is today. A pianist since the age of four, Rahm has won many awards in her musical career, played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and has even met Leonard Bernstein. The concert pianist and trained classical conductor holds degrees in art history and music and also paints, sculpts and writes poetry. I found it hard to believe that so much skill could be packed into this one small woman?
The artist explained how “all mediums function simultaneously. I myself as a musician believe that, even in my clothing, you can see the music and the composition. I think music, art, fashion are all one family, all parts of the arts. It goes quite well together. You perform, you need nice clothing. Or you need something that feels like you, whether you want to feel good about yourself in the public eye or on stage. I think your persona has a lot to do with what you wear, too. It all goes together.”
With such an illustrious and cultured background, Dish was curious to know how Rahm achieved the successful design career she has today. “I believe that people who are good at their job will be sought out. A good stylist will seek out what’s best for the client, not necessarily something that’s more notable or known. And that’s how I got discovered, was that a few really, really good stylists were seeking something different, something that not everybody can have access to. That’s how they found me.”
And even though she has been privileged to dress such superstars as Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sofia Vergara, to name a few, Rahm is completely humble. “I think what drives me is my insecurities and not feeling anything is ever good enough. Anything. You can ask anyone that works with me or that’s around me. I’m always on to the next thing, because I didn’t think the last one was good enough. I’m waiting for the day that I wake up and say, ‘You know, that was really good.’”
She also remains adamant about the fact that she designs for the client, not for her own benefit, “All these years, I never thought it was about me. It’s about you, you wearing my art. It’s about the art that I’m creating, that dress. It’s only today that everybody needs celebrity. It’s a new phenomenon. It wasn’t until maybe the past fifteen years that that was what it’s all about. Today everything is driven by fame. Years ago, I knew if you were talented, that’s what made it, not fame. Today you could have a celebrity name on a dress line, and just because that person’s name is on it, people buy it. But it’s not them, they’re not making the clothing. They don’t have the talent. It’s changed, the mentality of the consumer or the way our society thinks today.”
After looking closely at her impeccable designs, one can’t even imagine the tremendous amounts of time, energy and thought Rahm pours into each of her creations, not to mention, money.
Rahm explains, “There are dresses that we’ve done from $5,000 and a dress that we’ve done for $2.5 million dollars. There’s a big range there. It’s the amount of labor that goes into it. It’s not only the labor of the sewing. There could be the labor of the intense embroidery and beading that goes on. And the intense work that I, my fitter, my pattern maker and my assistant do to make some of these pieces, it takes an enormous amount of time. Sometimes some of the pieces you would think are the most expensive, aren’t. And I could show you a very, very simple ensemble that is probably more expensive than some of the bead encrusted pieces because of the construction, the time that’s spent to put it together to make it perfect. Sometimes you can hide imperfection behind fancy fabric and beading. But something that’s simple, the fit has to be impeccable.”
So, what’s next for the marvelous Rahm? Good news for her fans with less-than-celebrity status, “I’m looking to be merchandised in a more mass market. That’s really what my next step is… I would like to bring my sensibility, which is being a woman, to the everyday woman, instead of the select woman, because of the price point, by creating a line that’s affordable.”
Getting married or going to the event of a lifetime? Look like a superstar in anyone’s eyes in a custom-made Randy Rahm gown! Can’t afford it? Be sure and check out her soon to premiere ready-to-wear line meant for not so rich but oh-so-fabulous fashionistas like you (and me)!
Go to www.randirahm.com for more!