Rami Kadi Couture celebrates 10th anniversary: 'So talented, so amazing'

Famous fans, including Youssra, Myriam Fares and Maya Diab, congratulate the Lebanese fashion designer

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Friends, clients, collaborators and famous fans have come together to mark the 10th anniversary of Lebanese fashion label Rami Kadi Maison de Couture.

Regional celebrities such as Youssra, Myriam Fares and Maya Diab joined stylists, influencers, industry peers and staff members to congratulate Kadi, in a series of heartfelt video messages that paid tribute not only to his success and creativity, but also his humble, hardworking personality.

“You are a very special designer,” said Youssra, while TV personality Raya Abirached called him “so talented, so amazing”.

A look from Rami Kadi’s Retrospective 10 collection, which features only 10 pieces. Courtesy Rami Kadi

To mark the 10th anniversary of the brand, Kadi is presenting a fashion show at the Walk of Cairo on Wednesday. It will feature Kadi's latest collection, Retrospective 10, which consists of only 10 pieces, along with five exclusive couture designs made especially for the event and a selection of dresses from the autumn/winter 2021 collection, Dessiner le Vide.

An exhibition commemorating the fashion house’s evolution over the past decade will run alongside the show.

Fuelled by a childhood love of fabrics and embroidery, Kadi studied at Esmod in Paris. He graduated in 2008 and was promptly selected by Lebanon's Starch Foundation to showcase his first collection. Three years later, aged 25, Kadi launched his eponymous couture studio in his native Beirut.

His handcrafted designs quickly became a regular feature on red carpets, donned by celebrities including Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. In 2019, as the ultimate recognition of his talent and creativity, he presented his first show at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.

"I feel so lucky to have worn one of your incredible pieces," said British reality star Montana Rose Brown in her video tribute. "You made me feel like a princess."

But beyond the exquisite styling of his designs, Kadi is notable for his experimentation with fabric technology and his commitment to sustainability. His designs combine intricate embroidery and ­handcrafting techniques, with contemporary embellishments.

"My DNA is fashion technology; it's very playful, lots of fun and I enjoy doing it," he told The National in a 2019 interview.

Last year, he became a goodwill ambassador for sustainable fashion in west Asia for the United Nations Environment Programme. His industry insight is helping Unep to better understand the inner workings of the fashion industry.

Within this framework, Kadi says his role is “to act more responsibly and to encourage other designers and fashion students to become more aware of this programme that we are working on”.

Kadi’s own sustainability efforts are perhaps best illustrated in his spring/summer 2020 collection, when he created a dress made entirely out of plastic recovered from the ocean. The material was converted into threads that were woven into a light fabric.

Rami Kadi backstage at one of this haute couture shows. Courtesy Rami Kadi

He was also the first designer in the region to embrace the virtual fashion show – long before the pandemic made them de rigeur. “We are proud to have done it before it became a trend. We felt it was more responsible and a way to reduce the planet’s carbon footprint,” says Kadi.

And in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion on August 4, which damaged Kadi's home and atelier, the designer highlighted his sustainable approach and also his adaptability, when he created a collection entirely out of recycled materials left over from previous designs.

"We were about to shut everything down," the designer said. "But then we thought, let's do this collection by recycling everything we have."

A dress from Rami Kadi's autumn/winter 2021 collection, Dessiner le Vide. Courtesy Rami Kadi

For his autumn/winter 2021, dubbed Dessiner le Vide (Draw the Void), Kadi presented an homage to the resilience of Lebanon, saying that "beauty can never cave in, even when the going gets tough". His strength in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges is something that public relations professional Lea Sfeir highlights in her video message. "I am so proud of you. You have faced so many challenges and you have surpassed them all."

Kadi spoke to The National in the weeks after the Beirut port explosion. "The disaster affected me on a personal level as deeply as is possible – emotionally, mentally and financially. My showroom is completely destroyed, our gowns are shattered, our offices are damaged, our houses are affected by broken glass."

But in the midst of his despair, he highlighted the ability of the Lebanese people to rally in the face of adversity. "Fall down seven times, get up eight. Beirut was destroyed seven times and rebuilt; we will build it again. The Lebanese are so resilient."