Fashion runway: east meets west

Rami Al Ali, a Syrian couturier who works out of Dubai and shows his design in Paris, believes fashion is a business for the worldly-wise

Deconstructed fills, sashaying silk and flirtatious hints of Swarovski crystal encrusted chiffon whip up a mood of glamour and fantasy in the atelier of Rami Al Ali, a Middle Eastern master of the cloth who has set his eyes on the prize of global fashion recognition.

The couture shows of Paris’ esteemed fashion calendar are hallowed ground for the fashion industry. Taking the stage for the second year running, Syrian born Rami Al Ali aims to get interest from the all-important ‘front row’ through his skillful enhancement of femininity.

“I love to create gowns that embrace a natural silhouette, with clinched-in waists and flowing lines,” says the designer. “I also love to create East and West fusions, where I take the beautiful and intricate Arabesque patterns of my heritage and style them into the shapes and silhouettes of modern-day Western couture.” 

The road to the catwalk hasn’t been a direct route and opting for a career in fashion was an especially brave decision as it meant travelling away from his native Syria to expand his horizons.

“I spent my studying years learning all the different creative avenues before I finally realised that fashion was my calling,” explains Ali. “My home town in particular has very classical tastes, which meant it wasn't an option for me to stay if I really wanted to pursue my dreams.”

The international hub of Dubai serves his goals of opening international windows on the business. “I initially moved to Dubai to establish relations and gain more exposure to the fashion industry,” recalls Al Ali.

“I wanted to work for some of the best international houses and Dubai seemed like the most logical destination since it was the closest international hub to my home country.”

Dubai was a valuable springboard for Al Ali. He established his first label in the emirate in 2000 and he embraced the opportunities to reach out to an audience around the Gulf before making an ambitious leap into the European market when he unveiled a glamorous Spring/Summer 2009 collection at Rome's AltaRoma Couture week then hit Paris’ runways in January 2012.

Very much a citizen of the world, a host of cultural catalysts spark the inspiration for Al Ali’s elegant dresses. “It might be a person, a city or even a piece of art,” he explains. With his last two collection inspired by the period style movements of Orientalism and Baroque, he is tweaking his own course towards a grown-up modern glamour.
Pursuing his fashion dreams in Paris this coming January, Al Ali is guided by the success of other Middle Eastern style luminaries including Elie Saab, the Lebanese designer who claims to be the world’s best-selling couturier. Inventive yet wearable, Ali’s trademark Arabesque shapes are part of an alluring East-West spice mix making a statement around the world.