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       By Solana Hawkenson
       Unisex Couture

Who’s the boy and who’s the girl? It was hard to tell at Rad Hourani’s recent eye-popping runway show, that took place at the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week this year.

Gender bending fashion is no new idea. Diane Keaton has been know to rock suits on the red carpet, favoring tailored, menswear inspired ensembles over sparkly gowns. And who could forget the heyday of Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits? These fashionable ladies have worked comfortable, non-traditional looks into their personal style, but there’s another notable name we really have to thank for it.
Coco Channel, Diesel and DKNY
One of the most influential designers and pioneers of gender bending fashion was none other than Gabrielle "Coco" Bonheur Chanel. Though women of her time favored pale-skin, with their full-bodied figures stuffed into constricting corsets, Coco Chanel changed all of that. Her own boyish figure and short, cropped hair were a silent stand against the popular, and uncomfortable look of the day. To go yachting, she wore a striped shirt, bell-bottom pants, and crewneck sweaters, all traditionally worn by sailors and fishermen. Her designs completely changed the way women would continue to dress after the post-WWI era, abandoning their binding garments in favor of more moveable fabrics, like jersey, in “casual chic” silhouettes.

Recently, other women’s wear designers have worked in a few menswear inspired outfits into their mostly feminine collections. At the Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear shows, DKNY sent a very boyish look down the runway consisting of an oversized white button-down shirt, black slouchy pants and even black Chuck Taylor-esque sneakers. One of Diesel Black Gold’s models was the epitome of cool in a fitted white button-up shirt, black trousers and a light moto jacket with unique button detailing.
Black suits by Rad Hourani
Androgynous model Dylan Stephens of Nashville, TN worked the runway at this year’s Nashville Fashion Week in several beautiful designs from Black by Maria Silver. Stephens, who has modeled as both a male and female, modeled two womenswear designs from the collection including a striped, oversize blazer with velvet wine colored leggings and platform heels, and closed Silver’s show in a long, sheer black, sparkled halter dress.

Now we delightfully introduce to you Rad Hourani, the world’s first creator of unisex couture. The Montréal native showed on the final day of Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week, stunning the crowd with the first ever completely androgynous couture collection. His mainly black-and-white designs are gender neutral, meaning every piece is suitable for both men and women. Hourani topped every model, both male and female, with the same short black cropped wig, and put them in the same boots and sandals. His unisex collection included long, boxy jackets and tops, interesting use of leather trim, and slim pants, all in monochrome. It was hard to determine the sex of each model as they made their course down the runway, but of course,  that was the point.
White outfits by Rad Hourani
Also impressive is that Hourani was only 30 years old at the time of his show in Paris, and had already previously launched his namesake label in 2007.  Born in Jordan but raised in Montréal, the Parisian transplant has quite a fascinating outlook on design. He rationalized, “I don’t understand why a man has certain things he’s allowed to wear, and women have skirts, and flower prints and high heels. I don’t understand who made these rules. I think the aesthetic I’m creating is not a man going to a woman’s wardrobe, or a woman wearing men’s clothes. It’s a completely unisex vision.”

It’s certainly an exciting time for fashion, with more and more designers willing to push the envelope. Hourani has paved the way for others to experiment and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

You can find Rad Hourani’s designs at stores worldwide including Seven New York, Podium (Moscow), Antonioli (Milan), Daily Projects (Seoul) Maria Luisa at Printemps (Paris), Luisa Via Roma (Florence), Midwest (Tokyo), Joyce, and I.T (Hong Kong)   

Check it out at: / Issue 194 - July 2018
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