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6Qs with Fashion Designer Rania Salibi //

byLana Daoud

raniasalibi_photo_1_fullRania Salibi has already made a lot of moves in her young lifetime, but her latest and boldest move to date put her on Hollywood’s radar. Born in New York, Rania’s family moved from state to state before a six-year stint in Lebanon, where she spent her high school years. Upon the family’s return to Arizona, she followed then landed herself in Los Angeles to study fashion design. Her numerous trajectories led to her a big win at this year’s Oscar Designer Challenge, where she got to experience the ultimate runway. The audacious designer shares her love of art and fashion with FEN….

Alternative Materials to Fabric: Plants. I go to the extreme!
Favorite Design Season: All of them. Every season is unique.
Caffeine. Social or Necessary: Social.

1. How did your journey to becoming a fashion designer begin?
I always knew I wanted to do fashion design. I really got into it when I was in Lebanon. I was always interested in illustration and art, but in Lebanon, I was glued to Fashion TV (FTV). By the time I was 14, the feeling that I wanted to do fashion became more constant. I don’t feel like I chose fashion, but maybe more that it chose me. It’s just that it’s a hard industry to take in, and only when I look back does it seem to makes any sense.

2. From where do you draw your artistic inspiration?
My inspiration comes from everywhere.  When I was younger, it was music. I love art and art history. French culture influences me, especially being Lebanese — I feel that has something to do with the appeal. And Lebanese culture as well, a lot comes from home.

I don’t have a set process. Most people do things ABC. I do them ZFG.

3. Have you been influenced by any designers in particular?
Karl Lagerfeld has always been a favorite. Designers, in general are kind of iconic. Valentino, Donatella [Versace]. And of course there is Elie Saab, who as a designer that made a big mark in fashion and also being form Lebanon, has been a big influence on me as a young designer. It interests me to see where they go and how far they’ve gotten.

There are no rules in fashion, which is why I think young designers look to past designers as a model. We look to follow their lead as a way for us to navigate ourselves.

4. What has it meant for you as a designer since winning the Oscar challenge?
It’s given me a lot of confirmation as far as where I should be. You always know where you belong, but never feel certain until you get that confirmation.

The Oscars are like the Super Bowl of fashion, so it’s definitely a great feeling. This is the first time I was introduced to the public, and I can’t think of a better way…

I mean I’m sure there are other great ways, but this was certainly an honor, I got to meet a lot of new people, see what other designers are doing, and be validated as an artist.   It’s a big stepping stone, and very encouraging for me especially since I knew I was competing against designers who have been around for 10 or 20 years. I only graduated two years ago, so I didn’t apply with “the win” in mind, and definitely did not expect this.

5. The Academy obviously saw something they liked. Your design has some ingenuity involved — can you talk about that?
I knew I wanted to give the dress a little mystery, so I decided to use laser-cut leather. It’s a fairly new process — probably about 10 years old, but maybe newer to the industry. I designed the fabric, and found somebody who could engineer the material. The process to make the fabric restricted how it can be used, which played a part in the final design outcome. But the dress sketch that I submitted was intentionally vague because I know things change.

6. Do you have a philosophy on accessories?
I love accessories.  It has to be some amazing statement piece, unless the dress is a statement piece. You don’t want to go overkill with accessories. They have to complement each other, there needs to be a balance. Unless you’re naked then you can wear all the jewelry you want!

For more on Rania’s work, visit


About the Author: Born and raised in Southern CA, Lana Daoud can find herself at home just about anywhere. She has a degree in History with a minor in Middle East Studies, and is currently a fellow of NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership For Change based in Los Angeles. Home is where the next great experience lies, heart belongs to her nieces, roots are in Palestine.

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