Celebrity dressmaker and couture powerhouse Randi Rahm is about as New York as they come.
In conversation with amNewYork Metro she was straight-talking, confident, funny, affirmative, inspirational, and, despite her claims to the contrary, flawlessly chic even in “dressed-down” attire. Rahm is also a classically trained concert pianist, dancer and conductor whose dream job was to work on Broadway!
Stating off the bat with the comment that she “does not make clothes only for the twigs,” a great deal of our conversation revolved around body positivity, embraced relatively recently by the fashion industry, especially in its higher ends.
How do you feel about body positivity in fashion and is that something you consider as a designer?
All. The. Time. And from the beginning of my career. My last evolution [Rahm refers to her lines as evolutions, not collections, to reflect the fact that fashion is constantly evolving] was an incredibly inclusive show. And my evolutions have always been about the real woman. We had plus size models, gender-fluid models and models of a wide array of ethnicities, shapes and sizes.
When you come here to select a real couture piece, you encourage them to try things on beyond what they might have seen on a magazine cover that might better suit their shape. You can tell almost immediately when you’ve hit the mark, Because they stand up straight, and they look at themselves in the mirror and you know they’re thinking “I look dam good in this!” When you get that feeling, that’s the dress you should go with.
What are you working on just now?
Well, with COVID, as soon as happened, I did a mask initiative because the couture end really has to do with festivities and events and those came to a standstill. I felt like I really needed to do something and that was the first thing I did. And thinking about the harsh times fashion was now facing with reduced events I saw the handwriting on the wall. (A portion of the proceeds of all mask sales will be going to purchase PPE for First Responders and Nurses.)
My brides were calling me and saying ‘hold onto my dress, put a hold on it.’ I figured out that if I didn’t do something soon, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
With the closure of salons and the messy COVID hair and general drop in people’s appearance I thought to myself, ‘well these women and my friends should be wearing one step above that: something that’s comfortable, that’s like their workout clothes but not your run-of-the-mill workout clothes.’ So I came up with my new ready-to-wear line, At-Leisure: Feel Good.
At Leisure is just all of our favorite shapes and types of clothing, comfortable fabrics—one level up to look a little neater and more unkempt. Because I totally believe that if you feel good about yourself bad you feel when you look in the mirror you look good, then everything goes way better.
Obviously you have made clothing for a vast array of celebrities, from Beyonce to Mariah Carey. Are celebrity clients difficult to work with?
A lot of the times it’s arranged by a stylist and I don’t get to meet the big celebrity. The only bad experiences I’ve had have never been with the celebrity themselves but might have been with a stylist who mistreated me or my staff or the garment but, no, I have no diva-style horror stories!
What are your most iconic dresses?
Probably my Diamond and Gypsy dresses.
What designers inspire you?
I’m inspired by a lot of things but I’d have too go with Dior in the 50s and the old house of Balenciaga.
Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Billy Porter & More Couture by Designer Randi Rahm to Dazzle Julien’s Auctions Dec. 2-3. For more information on bidding on stunning Randi Rahm creations go visit www.juliensauctions.com. For more details on Rahm’s new At-Leisure Line, visit www.randirahm.com/leisure-collection-by-randi-rahm.