An interview with Reem Acra

If you’ve seen photographs from a celebrity wedding,  a red carpet or any star studded event of late you will certainly be familiar with the opulent designs of Reem Acra.  Reem Acra’s Bridal and ready-to-wear collections are currently carried by 150 of the world’s most exclusive retailers which include Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue. This woman is everywhere and the Reem Acra brand seems to be moving forward at a pace these days like never before. She has just completed one of the most profound presentations for her Spring Summer season in New York, she’s announced a new store opening in Beirut and also just recently signed a three year sponsorship deal with the Western European League and the final of the FEI World Cup Dressage.  I was given the opportunity to interview Ms. Reem Acra and find out a little bit about the woman behind the brand. So much was happening I barely even knew where to start. So let’s just jump in…

FFG: When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer? Was that always your “what I want to do when I grow up” answer?
RA: When I was a student at the American University in Beirut I did my first fashion show there and I realized at that time that this is what I wanted to do for my life and career.

FFG: You have become one of the most successful designers in America. Do you attribute that more to talent / hard work / luck or a good combination of all of the above?
RA: It’s a lot of hard work, dedication and determination with a little bit of talent thrown in.

FFG: Who is your style icon?
RA: My mother was and is always my style icon. She taught me everything she knew about fashion and fabrics. She instilled in me a love of textiles and we spent many happy Saturdays together shopping for fabric  to make clothes with.

FFG: Do you have favoured celebrities to dress and has there been one moment that a celebrity has stepped out in one of your designs that has really taken your  breath away?

RA: The first celebrity I ever dressed was Halle Berry and when I saw her in the dress I designed that was the moment when I couldn’t breathe I was so happy and excited and she looked so beautiful.

FFG: You left Lebanon to study fashion in New York City and Paris. Growing up in a country so rich with culture and beauty must have had tremendous influence on your creations.  Do you continue to look back to your home country for inspiration even today?
RA: I look at all of my travels past and future for inspiration. It is all important and plays an enormous influence on me.

FFG: Your Spring Summer line has some of the most romantic dresses we’ve seen on the catwalks for the new season. The line as a whole seemed a bit more relaxed for you this season. We still saw that lovely opulence we have come to expect from Reem Acra but there was a lighter air to the whole show. Are you trying to appeal to a wider market with a more relaxed glamour?

RA: I’m opening new stores and I need to think about everyone all over the world – women I’ve never imagined wearing my clothing who have different lifestyles and needs that will look to me for new clothing styles.

FFG: Your wonderful dresses seem to be very “forgiving” for women. It’s obvious you are not one of those designers wishing to punish those among us that are not size zero. Do you have a certain type of woman in mind when you are designing each collection?  And furthermore what is your take on the size zero controversy that seems to never die…
RA: I design for every figure in mind. Large and small all need to be beautifully clothed. I think about my needs as well when I’m designing and always work hard to stay true to myself.

FFG: We are now in the thick of Autumn Winter.  Do you have a favourite piece from the collection you presented last February which is now in stores?
RA: All of them are my favorite. I love the mood of the collection – not one piece is more important

FFG: Speaking of stores…you have a store opening in Beirut next month! First of all, congratulations. It must be an amazing feeling for you to open a store in your home country. What are you visions for the future with the new opening?  I can only imagine how emotional the whole opening will be.
RA: Yes, it is emotional for me to be returning home with my store. I’m soo excited! My heart and soul are so caught up in the opening and I look forward to being as successful in my own home country as I have been all around the world. that I will

FFG: You’ve also signed a dressage sponsorship deal with the FEI which will last three years! How did such a deal come about? 
RA: Dressage has always been in the back of my mind since I was a child. I enjoy a close relationship with HRH Princess Haya who is the President of the Federation Equestrian International and she has been very supportive and encouraging of this upcoming sponsorship. We are looking forward to being a part of this fascinating and exciting world of sportsmanship.

FFG: In October you are speaking at TEDxDoha during the Doha TriBeCa Film Festival. How did you get involved and what can we look forward to hearing you speak about at the festival?
RA: They approached me to share my story with them. I guess they thought that I had a story to tell that would resonate with their audience. I am very excited about this upcoming opportunity to speak to people I might never had the opportunity to talk with before and share my experience with them. 

Thank you so much to Reem Acra for giving us this exclusive interview!

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