In Paris at haute couture week, last week, a Dubai-based Syrian designer called Rami Al Ali was making his debut in the city. It was off-schedule, but he felt the time was right to get into the Paris market. He’s been showing at Rome’s couture week for a couple of years, and has had some exposure from that, but Paris is a whole new ballgame for him.
I’ve had mixed feelings about Rami. After our first inauspicious attempted interview for The National (when he didn’t turn up), I was rather standoffish, but the fact is that in Dubai – a country where getting clothes made to measure is as normal as popping to H&M, and where glitzy red-carpet dressing is appropriate for any party or bar or sometimes even a concert or the beach – he, along with one or two other designers, stands out as having a talent that goes beyond the more common practices of slapping Swarovski all over a jalabiyah. He has a proper atelier and rather than churning out the same old pretty, reliable chiffon gowns, he earnestly explores different techniques, fabrications and concepts. And as a journalist, I couldn’t let my personal feelings get in the way of covering good work (however much my slighted pride would have liked me to), so I continued to commission plenty of coverage of his development into a genuinely interesting designer.
When, after getting on for four years, I finally met the guy (having been at the same parties countless times but never introducing myself), he was charm personified, as he had been with the photographer Steve Lock, who was taking shots for my piece in The National, offering every courtesy in what would have been an incredibly stressful moment. So here are some pics from his very pretty presentation at Le Meurice’s Salon Pompadour. What do you think? I reckon, given a couple of seasons showing in the more stringent environs of Paris, he should be able to really expand his design vocabulary. One to keep an eye on.