Interviewing Ronald was interesting, cool and so much fun… Rather difficult to stay serious around the designer!!!
Ronald, you launched your first ready-to-wear collection X-Ray – in 2007 evoking parts of the human body – What made you take this direction? What pushed you to use such theme for your collection?
This was going to be my first RTW collection, and I was considering the different themes I could work with. I decided on X-ray as a theme for two reasons: I saw it as a challenge to glamourize the macabre, trying to render it elegant and interesting; and second it was a sort of homage to my father, who is a Doctor. I was never really good at biology or any scientific subjects at school, so it was a way for me to explore that side of my family background and transform my educational shortcomings into something creative!
Do you feel your fashion style is a reflection of your rich international background?
Having been exposed to various different cultures has for sure enriched my vision of fashion. That being said, I seem to always come back to a Japanese/Asian aesthetic, and I have never been to Japan or Asia! It’s a culture I have always been drawn to. Having lived and studied in London, Paris, Nigeria, Los Angeles, and Lebanon, the influences they’ve instilled in me have become inherent. In a way it can be confusing, as the cultures of each continent are extremely different, and finding a balance of these influences in my design has been at times difficult. But balance always plays a crucial part in my thought process.
Which country inspired you the most? Why?
Among the countries in which I have resided, I would have to say London. London had an extremely forward take on fashion in the past, and continues to do so today. The art scene alone, in London, is enough to inspire and enrich a designer’s mind! I find London more open and responsive to change, to evolution, whereas Paris, I feel, seems to stagnate and takes time to adopt or adapt. In London you live the arts, culture, history, music, dram… One can really feel the dynamic pulse of this city when walking its streets.
How would you describe your brand?
I always wanted the brand to be cool, different, and modern, with a feminine silhouette. I never warmed to ball gowns or heavily embroidered and ornate pieces, and rarely, if ever, do I use them in my ready-to-wear collections. Ronald, the brand, focuses on structured, defined, edgy garments that target the modern women of today.
Your collection has Western and traditional Middle Eastern influences – How do manage the balance of East and West?
As a result of my living abroad for so many years, I couldn’t help but be impacted by the international fashion scene. It wasn’t until very late in my life that I came in contact with the Middle East’s treatment of fashion. It’s strange to look at old photographs of my family from the 50s, 60s, and 70s; they looked so much more modern at the time, and so “a la mode” – so to speak. I think it’s a shame that in the Middle East of today, people seem to gravitate to embroidered evening gowns, and stuck in a mind-set of “bigger is better”. The notion of “less is more” doesn’t seem to be one that most Middle Eastern ladies are familiar with, and all that glitters is NOT in fact gold! Therefore, this is my challenge. It’s a give and take, a balance between both worlds. If I embroider, I do it in small doses or in a non-traditional mode. If I design a ball gown, I modernize it the best I can.
How do you produce and distribute your designs?
We sample, produce, and distribute all our garments in-house. The capacity is still manageable, but I am constantly on the lookout for production houses with whom I can outsource. We are currently establishing our brand and market presence in London. The aim is to build the brand from London, and develop a broader distribution network in Europe and afar.
You always like to push the boundaries of creativity, so where are you taking us next?
I never know where my next source of inspiration is going to come from, or how I translate a theme into my vision of it. I find my creative process triggered by the most unexpected of places or objects. That being said, in my Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, I am taking you somewhere very, VERY, cold.
Do you have any exciting themes you’d love to explore for your next collections?
I’m one of those designers that do not work thematically. The theme develops along the way, and I am comfortable with things working out that way. I usually do my research, see what interests me, and go from there. Even the clothes are designed step by step. I need to see and feel the garments before I develop an entire collection. It ends up coming together at the end, and a storyline emerges.
If you could change one thing about your career to date, what would it be and why?
So much, yet so little! In hindsight, I could tell you that launching my career from Lebanon as opposed to London has had its challenges and drawbacks. However, at the same time, had I not done it this way, I wouldn’t have acquired all the knowledge I have now. You learn far more from your experience than you do from a book.
In your wildest dreams, If you could live the life of another designer, just for a day, who would it be, and why?
Oh, Wow! I have no idea! I’ve never really thought of being anyone else! I’m quite satisfied with who I am! The truth is, I don’t believe that any designer has it better than another. We all go through the same trials and tribulations. We experience the same highs and lows, the same glory and deceptions, at different times in our careers. So I don’t really believe I would want to be another designer.
Any exciting projects in the pipeline?
There are a couple of things brewing right now! We will be revealing more details soon enough. The major project right now is the re-launching of House of Ronald from the United Kingdom.
Tell me about one of your best memories?
All the memories I have of my late brother are the best ones I have.
Your resolutions for 2015?
I think I fit in with 99% of the population on this one: Lose Weight, get fit, and stop smoking!
Semia Azaiz, The Trendy Frenchie, Editor in Chief, Luxsure Dubai