Syrian-born Dubai-based fashion designer Rami Al Ali is renowned for his stunning designs blending Western stylistic influences with an Eastern sense of femininity. At once avant-garde, chic and simple, Al Ali’s creations endow the female form with a sleek and breathtaking elegance. We meet the designer in his Dubai studio to find out more about his creative process and tailor-made approach.
How did you decide to be a fashion designer?
I never studied fashion design in school. Growing up I always loved dressing my sisters and observing what they were wearing. It was so interesting to me to see how they could carry themselves differently depending on what they wore. In 1991, I moved to Damascus to study Visual Communications at the College of Fine Arts. This immediately led me to experiment in other creative disciplines such as interior and graphic design. I nevertheless always loved fashion, and while there was no specific degree within the field, I decided to design and produce a fashion show which was quite different from what was expected of me. I then moved to Dubai in 2000 and began working as an apprentice to a local fashion designer before beginning Rami Al Ali Couture in 2000.
What are the principal influences in your work?
I love the avant-garde and I love a woman’s inherent femininity. My approach has always been to try and marry the two. I am also interested in history especially by my own Syrian heritage – its art, architecture and handicrafts. I’ve incorporated such influences in my collections in a way which recalls the past while also staying very much so in the contemporary present. When I came to Dubai there was no clear blend of an Eastern and Western sense of femininity; the dresses I saw were either way too Arabic or too European. I am consistently trying to strike a balance between the two.
What does a typical fitting for a client entail?
The client arranges an appointment with me and tells me what she wants. I immediately get a sense of her style, the way she speaks and carries herself – all of which influences the design she wants me to make. She then comes back for several more fittings whereby I show her how the dress is progressing. The women who wear my designs are sophisticated, graceful and very refined – the style of the client should mirror my designs and vice versa.