Rad Hourani's Gender-Agnostic Collection

Martin Marks

It's perhaps difficult to distinguish between the genderless and the unisexual, let alone to render this distinction in clothes. But therein lies the work of designer Rad Hourani, who describes this concept as "gender agnostisism" -- as in, there are genders, but not as we know them or wear them.

Indeed, Hourani's unisexual RAD Collection, shown yesterday at Milk Studios, brought to mind not the genderless, but rather, the de-symmetrical -- as though a separate symmetry had been crafted through the act of taking apart and putting back together, both of gender and of clothes. This deconstruction/reconstruction synthesis --  rendered in jersey, boiled wool, flannel and crepe -- could be seen in a design mirroring that placed as much emphasis on the backs as it did the fronts.

There was a softness to the black wrap-around jackets and the exaggerated front collars coats and double-layer kilt jackets. An orientalising effect pervaded the show, and not just because of the kabuki-like mixed gender presentation; a beige undershirt with overlong sleeves, topped with a black vest, was gathered at the front by a doubled beige kaku obi belt sash. And though heavy on PVC and zippered hems, Hourani's work as a whole had an oddly organic feel to it, a difficult task especially for clothes that futuristic, if not a collection so conceptual.

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