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Arts / Entertainment

Master of haute couture: Ali Rahimi

October 18, 2010
By Melinda Swenson

L.A. designer Ali Rahimi's visit to Colorado State is a jewel of an opportunity for students studying apparel design, production, merchandising, and business. The designer, acclaimed for his consummate skill in design and construction through the near-lost art of hand finishing (and for his A-list of Hollywood clients), will give a public lecture, meet with, and mentor students.

Jane Lynch on the red carpet at the 2010 Emmys. In answer to Ryan Seacrest's question, "What are you wearing?" she said, "Ali Rahimi, and doing my best to wear it well."

Can you name the couturier who designed Reese Witherspoon’s iconic, pink suit in Legally Blonde 2?

(Hint: He also designed a gown for Emmy-winning actress Jane Lynch from the TV series, Glee, which resulted in her being named “Best dressed of the evening” by Entertainment Tonight’s fashion critic, Steven Cojocaru.)

His name is Ali Rahimi.

One-of-a-kind creations

Rahimi is a Los Angeles designer of haute couture for clients who appreciate the finest in design and fabrication.

Under the label Mon Atelier, Rahimi employs old world craftsmanship in creating everything from men’s suits and tuxedos to elegant shoes, beaded evening bags, and red carpet gowns.

His creations are known for being beautifully finished with exquisite details. Among his A-list clients: celebrities Heidi Klum, Anjelica Huston, Amy Lee of Evanescence, Eva Longoria, William H. Macy, and Blair Underwood.

'Our faculty made this possible'

“I heard last semester that Ali Rahimi was coming to CSU for a weeklong visit,” says Diana Walker, a senior in the Department of Design and Merchandising. “I was in a work study position at the Avenir Museum and one day the faculty curators told me that Rahimi was coming to CSU during the Fall 2010 semester.

Pictured: Ali Rahimi. A master of haute couture (a designer of high-quality, custom made clothes), his clients include Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Adams, Angela Bassett, and Michael Jackson.

“We wouldn’t have this caliber of person coming to CSU if it weren’t for the fact that our design and merchandising faculty have worked at the top levels of fashion design themselves, have these connections, and are willing to reach out on behalf of their students."

Classic techniques, modern trends

“I’ll be fascinated to hear about his draping techniques, especially for women! Suits have been being designed for men since the 16th century.

"There is so much we can learn from Rahimi about classic techniques for draping that can be used in pattern making and applied to modern trends.”

In the style of 20th century masters

“Ali Rahimi is a couturier in the style of the classic 20th century masters,” says Linda Carlson, curator for CSU’s Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising. “His custom finishes and techniques provide a standard. 

"The benefit for our students is that, when looking at this high level of construction, they suddenly understand what is possible! They will take with them a standard against which you can measure good construction.

Ali Rahimi gown design. Image by Toky Photography.

"Even for those who go into ready-to-wear, Rahimi has set the quality bar high, and they won’t want to fall below it.”

Rahimi to lecture on Blackwell

Rahimi’s visit will take place against the backdrop of a semester-long exhibit of original designs by legendary fashion force and “worst-dressed” critic Richard Blackwell. (The exhibit opens at the Avenir Museum on Oct. 23.)

Rahimi will lecture on the fine art of contemporary design and on the legacy of Mr. Blackwell. 

The future in contemporary fashion

“Blackwell is the inspiration of the past,” says Carlson. “And Rahimi is the future in regard to what is happening in a contemporary fashion sense. I met him when I visited his studio in L.A. I can tell you that he’s delightful! He has a quiet way about him; he’s young, very creative, and very handsome!

“He has a gift. When he constructs a piece, he turns back time. He puts painstaking and patient work into creating his designs, using hand-executed techniques."

'Every job counts'

Ali Rahimi gown design. Image by Toky Photography.

"I understand Ali Rahimi takes part in every phase of design and production,” says Walker, whose studies have focused on design and production. “Once we get into the industry, we’ll remember by his example that every job counts.

“Being the head designer or being in the spotlight is not the end goal. It will remind us that there are no shortcuts to designing beautifully. All the people, all along the way, who make a design come to fruition are indispensable."

'He will open up our perspective'

“Rahimi is young," says Walker, "and it opens up our perspective of what is possible. Many students in design and merchandising automatically think of going to New York to start our careers because we think of that as more attainable.

"But here’s this young person who followed his career dream to L.A. His visit to CSU will bring home for us the opportunities that can come from going to the west coast in pursuit of our careers.”

The designer's beginnings

In describing Rahimi’s beginnings, Carlson says that he went to Virginia Marti College of Art and Design in Lakewood, Ohio. “He’s from Tehran, Iran,” Carlson says, “and his mother is a knitter.

“He’s destined to accomplish incredible things, and we’re so look forward to hosting him and seeing some of the designs that he’ll bring with him.”

Lecture free and open to the public

Rahimi’s lecture takes place on Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Room 136 of the University Center of the Arts Annex (behind the UCA building). The lecture is free and open to the public. No reservations are needed.

Contact: Linda Carlson