Middle Eastern Fashion Designer Rakan Shams Aldeen Joins Project Runway

by Charlotte Smith
 Rakan Shams Aldeen Our Project Runway Designer to Watch Exclusive 

I have been a fan of Project Runway since it launched in 2006.  In fact, I had always dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. Although I have no clue how to sew. Instead, my life journey led me on a path of meeting several designers. This prompted me to create the “Designer to Watch” section of StyleCartel.com.  So, I am beyond thrilled to find out that one of the designers I had been following on Instagram posted that he was going to be on Project Runway! I found Rakan so interesting and I wanted to share his story. Yes, Rakan Shams Aldeen whom we meet on a trip to Turkey was on season 17.

 Rakan Shams Aldeen Our Project Runway Designer to Watch Exclusive 

At Turkey Fashion Week, We have to thank the creative director of LES BENJAMINS, for making the introduction. We meet the master couture crafter Rakan Shams Aldeen. We hit it off instantly with the talented Syrian fashion designer.

Rakan’s story and craft speaks for itself. At the age of five, he developed an interest in fashion and began sketching every dress that his imagination could conceive. His journey from Syria to New York add the extra spice to this exclusive interview with the designer.

Rakan studied architecture at the University of Kalamoon, Syria. When the civil war in Syria broke out, he moved to Lebanon. He continued to follow his dreams and study fashion design and pattern making at l’Ecole Superieure des Arts et Techniques de la Mode in Beirut (EsMod-Beirut). Rakan then moved to Istanbul and graduated from Vakko-EsMod Istanbul in 2015.

 Rakan is a conceptual designer who is inspired by everything around him, especially architecture and history. This motivated him to move to Chicago in 2017 to establish his own brand. —Rakan— a luxurious modern line dedicated to the strong, confident women who desire to be unique.

 Rakan Shams Aldeen Designer to Watch Exclusive

“One of the best advice I’ve received is: Always be kind, you get more with honey than vinegar”

 What was your first memory of fashion?

I remember I was in first grade and the teacher in the class asked us, ‘What do you want to be when we grow up?’ I said I want to be a fashion designer. I still can remember the confusion in everyone’s face after I said that.

How did you discover your crafts?

Fashion chose me! I wanted to be a fashion designer even before understanding what fashion is really about and what it takes to be a creative person! Whenever I’m coming up with a concept or trying to find solutions for patterns or sewing, it comes to me very naturally because it’s in my blood.

What are the pros and cons of print magazines?

I like touching the papers, feeling the covers and flipping through the pages. A print magazine has a unique feeling. I also enjoy smelling the perfume samples (laughs)… The cons are that they take up a lot of space and have negative effects on the environment.

 Rakan Shams Aldeen Project Runway Designer

What are the pros and cons of digital magazines?

I personally prefer digital magazines because they’re more accessible and have wider audiences. But since digital is easier to create and is speed oriented, there’s too much online content with lesser quality

What made you apply to Project Runway?

I grew up watching the show, and I remember that I was always trying to design for the challenges that were airing like I was one of the designers on that season. When I got the phone call from the casting team about auditioning for the new season I was so excited. It’s a dream coming true!

Where were you when you found out you made the show?

In the shower (laughs)…

What was one thing you learned from your time on “Project Runway” that you are continuing to use in your line?

I learned that you always have to trust yourself and believe in your ideas and vision, even if some people didn’t like them right away. It is very important to stay true to your talent and who you are as a creative mind.


What has been your favourite career moment so far?

Having actress Elisabeth Rohm walking the runway at the American Heart Association’s Red Dress Collection Fashion Show during NY Fashion Week 2019 in a custom-made red gown. All while supporting a great cause!

 Elisabeth Rohm walking the runway at the American Heart Association’ Red Dress Collection Fashion Show during NY Fashion Week 2019

Elisabeth Rohm walking the runway at the American Heart Association’ Red Dress Collection Fashion Show during NY Fashion Week 2019

 Rakan Shams Aldeen Project Runway Designer

Model wearing Rakan Shams Aldeen

What is your signature design?

In my first collection (The 1.0) I had a long neoprene coat that I consider as my signature design. It has a lot of geometrical cuts and fabric manipulation. The coat was shown during the “First Impression” runway show in the first episode of Project Runway.

Snapchat or Instagram Stories?

Instagram stories!

What do you want your fashion designer footprint to be?

I want to add something to the great fashion industry. I want to keep creating something new that provokes emotion and interaction.

Who is your dream designer to collaborate with?

Riccardo Tisci 

What is your must-have beauty/grooming product when you are on the road?

I don’t travel without my facial skincare products.

What are you up to when you’re not designing?

I do a lot of cross-stitching and needlepoint canvas when I’m not designing. It is like therapy to me and helps me relax.

What designer house do you look up to?


 Rakan Shams Aldeen Project Runway Designer

What would you change about the fashion game?

More is more, more creative, more inclusive, more WOW moments!

What are you listening to right now?

L’art d’aimer – Le Trio Juobran

If one buyer would pick up your line who would you wish it to be?

In Europe and the Middle East: Galleries Lafayette

In the US: Bergdorf Goodman

What are you grateful for?

I’m grateful for having people in my life that support me, believe in me and stand by me no matter what I’m doing.

 Rakan Shams Aldeen Project Runway Designer

       What advice would you give emerging designers like yourself? 

Believe in yourself and be strong. Life is hard and success doesn’t come from being comfortable. Never give up!

Social Media:

IG: http://instagram.com/rakanshamsaldeen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rakanshmsaldeen

FB: https://www.facebook.com/DesignerRakan/

Rakan: Project Runway

© Bravo Media/Miller Mobley

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