Interview with Randi Rahm - Designer Behind One of the Last Remaining American Couture Houses
A classically trained conductor and concert pianist with degrees in art history and music, Randi Rahm was destined for success in a creative field. Her design vision combines her love of dance, fine art, and music- a pastiche of influences which helped Rahm innovate throughout her career. Rahm has been dressing Hollywood icons, Broadway leads, elegant brides, and power women and men around the world of all shapes and sizes for over 25 years. As one of the last remaining American couture houses, Randi Rahm is proud to be made in New York.
F'OLITIQUE: What's Your perspective on the current state of the fashion industry and how do You foresee the future of the industry?
RAHM: My own philosophy is that I do not consider myself part of the fashion industry. I am an artist who preforms her work through fashion. The fashion industry, or the garment industry or center as we refer to it here in NYC, is in flux. This is largely because retail has changed so much so quickly. I forsee the future of the fashion industry in so many different sectors. In my sector of the business, haute couture- people will always want the best of the best. The taste, touch, and smell of art, because the artistry behind it is important.
Today, we in live in world of fashion fashion. There are lots of ways of purchasing, not just to own, which has fallen out of vogue, the word "own." People rent, used clothes, upcycled materials are in demand. no one really knows what the future may bring. But for someone innovative, who can figure out new ways to offset changes in manufacturing and retail, there is so much that can still be done. The consumer has also changed, so you have to change and go with the times.
F'OLITIQUE: What's your own journey in the industry as a highly sought-after designer and what's Your point of view on how the industry has been changing over the years?
RAHM: It has never been about me, as a designer. It is about my clients and the real people who inspire my designs. Of course, I am a haute couture artist: but there is no reason why I can't design and interpret that fine-tuned essence into a different sector of consumer (which I would love to do.) All industries change and you have to change with the times. This is a natural flow of what happens in all all facets of society and industries: as society changes their views, fashion's evolution is included. This is why I consider my work never part of a collection. It is part of a larger evolution. It's changed from people wanting quality over quantity, to this trend of fast fashion. Younger consumers do not want to own as much. It's an experience based, and not really an important sector now for young consumer market. But yet, art is. It is the pinnacle of experiences. So while yes- my work does speak to an a certain sector of educated consumer, but those who want an experience of art through haute couture. There will always be these people. They will always find the art.
F'OLITIQUE: What are the key elements to run a successful fashion brand nowadays?
RAHM: When you find out, let me know. There is so much afoot in the world. It impacts everything, and when our minds are on other challenges fashion, and art, seem diminished in our cultural world view. But they are not. And for me, absolutely not. Fashion is an expression; a statement of self. Of creativity. Of identity. There's so much happening now in our society that is reflected in fashion- for example, my past NYFW show Couture/Ink allowed me to finally express the extensive reach of my collection to the inclusiveness ofeveryone that i come across in my business and in my life. Fashion is important, because art is. They are not separate. Because timeless pieces survive even the most trying times.
F'OLITIQUE: Is it still as important as it was before to do a runway show and participate in the Fashion Weeks?
RAHM: Interesting question. I have been asking myself that for a while - I have only started to participate in fashion week a few years ago, because everyone kept saying "It's so relevant! You have to be relevant!" This awful world, "relevant." I am relevant within fashion week or not. I do think Fashion Week honors the industry. For that reason, it's important for it to happen- whether it happens the way it does now-you can see that it's changed [In New York] in a short time from Bryant Park, to Lincoln Center, to Spring Studios and dispersed across the city- I think that Fashion Week should happen. But it doesn't have to be in a traditional "15 minute and 32 second runway show." This year, I put on a theatrical event. An event. A happening. For my quote-un-quote fashion show. Couture/Ink represents the brand, what I'm trying to say, and how I feels. So I think like anything else Fashion Week should evolve, and it just isn't as relevant the way its been presented over the past few years. It's alive. It has to be rethought.