A selfie portrait by New York fashion designer Rami Kashou

Rami Kashou, A fashion designer from Brooklyn, New York @ramikashou  //  www.ramikashou.com

What was the situation in which this photo was taken?

It’s 8:00 am, I’m in my kitchen and the room is flooded with morning sunlight, I’m still waking up while I brew my espresso, it’s quiet but I can hear the birds chirping in the background. It’s my favorite time of day.

Could you tell us something about what you do?

I’m fashion designer.

How did you first become interested in the fashion design?

My grandmother once told me when I was 5 years old, I used to pull her by the hand towards her closet and pick her outfit by tugging on the most colorful dresses in sight. When I was 8 or 9 years old I began sketching fashion designs on my school notebooks. It started as fashion scribbles, one notebook and later turned into stacks of books filled with designs that I used to share with my mother’s friends while they visited for morning coffee. They would take my sketches to the local seamstress and she would turn my designs into dresses for them to wear.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The moment someone wears one of my designs and I have the chance to see how she is feeling through her reaction; how her posture changes, her smile and excitement. It’s a bonding experience and to me that’s magical because I find it inspiring.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I am working on my next collection inspired by beautiful Palestinian hand embroidery. In October I travel to my hometown, Ramallah to begin a creative mentorship program with a group of designers for a month where they will be competing by creating a series of green and environmentally friendly designs from recycled materials. There will be a group fashion show nearing the end and a cash prize for one lucky winner sponsored by Qattan Foundation: an organization serving education and culture in Palestine and the Arab world. In between I am working on special custom design orders for clients.

What are the challenges in what you do, and how do you overcome them?

How fast fashion is dominating the business and its effects on the design industry. I think it blurs the lines between what is really authentic and what is generic. Over production and supply for big profit has an affect on design because products often become disposable and quickly loose their value. I find that a challenge because I don’t define myself as a “fast fashion” designer. The way I overcome this challenge is by shifting my creative focus on design work that is drawn from deeper sources and inspirations. I feel people connect with a product not only by how appealing it may look but also through the story it is telling and inspiration behind it, especially if they are making a positive difference by supporting a specific brand, where it comes from and how it is made.

Could you describe your personal style?

I love the feeling of comfortable and fluid fabrics with a nice structured jacket. I like wearing loose T- shirts with jeans or cotton pants. I love my burgundy suede sneakers and lately I have been wearing oversized shirts with embroidered necklines that I brought with me back from Morocco.

What is your present state of mind?

Adventurous and inspired.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Fela Kuti, Le Trio Joubran, Jorja Smith, Leon Bridges, Leanne LaHavas amongst others.

Which artists or designers inspire you?

Iris Van Herpen, Valentino, Madame Gres.

What is the purpose of art, in your view?

Art is a reflection of current affairs taking place during a moment in time. It is the instrument through which the artist communicates and educates oneself and or others about internal and external subjects that are shaping the world. Art gives permission to people by encouraging them to raise questions and think about topics that may sometimes be overlooked.

How do you spend your free time?

I really enjoy cooking and having friends over for dinners, sometimes I like to sew and make things. I often go to art exhibitions in NYC, often with my best friend. I like binge-watching through some tv shows. I take bike rides through the park and I really enjoy cabin life on the weekends from time to time.

New York fashion designer Rami Kashou with one of his creations.