Crush Of The Week

Creative duos dialogue | Meet Layla Kardan and Rabih Rowell

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Our 7th printed issue put a focus on Love & Dialogues, and with this theme we were intrigued to hear more about the way some creative duos we love work together.
It’s in Dubai that we met with 3 of them, had them interview each other and shot them in Alserkal Gallery, at Ayyam Gallery, under the lens of talented photographer Dawid Rus. Our first duo is singer-songwriter Layla Kardan and creative director/Fashion guru Rabih Rowell who together have been creating some magic, notably in a recent video for Jean Paul Gaultier shot by Mad Juice. JDEED wanted nothing else than an intimate, raw conversation that Kardan and Rowell delivered. Show devant.

Rabih Rowell(RR): How did we meet?

Layla Kardan (LK) : We basically met at my performance in One Life for a Femal First Session. It was pretty much one of the first times I was singing my original songs and I don’t recall exactly the conversation we had but i remember seeing you and thinking ìWho is this cutie? We need to be friends!î then you contacted me and asked me if I wanted to perform at this fashion event you were heading up, and yeah, we got along super well. You were so sweet and gracious. I enjoyed being around you and I remember thinking you’re different. That was the beginning of our beautiful blossoming friendship, and also of our incredible journey of working together.

RR: You were performing at this event and I was new to Dubai and happened to be there by surprise, my friend had taken me there. I was instantly obsessed with you when I first saw you.

LK : What was your favourite project we worked on?

RR : My favourite project we worked on together in the Jean Paul Gaultier’s campaign which is something that represents me and you in all the ways possible. The project didn’t have a lot of creative constraints, we had a lot of creative freedom to do whatever we wanted and the outcome is one of the best we’ve had on a common project.
Other projects like the music video of “No Place” that I directed and shot and, generally, all the shoots that we do together.

LK : I’d say everything we work on is my favorite project. You put so much love and energy into everything we work on together and we’re both so passionate about what we do, so it’s almost like a spiritual and magical experience. I have so many favorites. I think the one that really stood out for me on what we collaborated on together fully was “No Place” with all the challenges that we faced. I feel like we created something really beautiful. I also loved the Jean Paul Gaultier video and photoshoot we did, because that was so iconic and was so nice to be recognized  by such a big international fashion house for our collaborative work and be celebrated for it, and be given free creative reign to do what we wanted with this and that was amazing.

RR : What do you like about working with me?

LK : I love working with you, because you’re pure joy, because you’re cheeky and fun but really serious about the work. It’s like a combination of work and creating and sometimes stress, but there’s always laughter and joy and playfulness. What I love about it the most is that you’re so 100% invested in the project as much as I am. It’s like it’s our baby together. I’m not just any client to you, you really care about the success of everything I do and vice versa. We’re both really here to lift each other up and catapult forward together and also individually.  
Generally I don’t like taking directions from people, and I don’t trust that they have the best creative vision in mind for me, because I’m particular with what I want, but you just get everything that I want, and what looks good on me, and how I want to be presented. Sometimes you push me over the edge in places where I would be less inclined to take a leap of faith. You give me that comfort zone to do it. I love everything about you but working with you is so much fun and sometimes the way we can make something out of nothing is just wow. What about you ? What do you enjoy about working with me ?

RR : What I like about working with you is that it doesn’t feel like work when we’re together. We built this relationship where we’re more like family and whenever I’m working with you, I enjoy it to the max. We have a lot of similarities; I’m feeding my creativity with something I can’t find elsewhere when working with you. The fact that you appreciate everything that I do and that you trust my vision also gives me a lot of push in my work; Frankly, it’s not really work, it’s more like a assembly of creativity. And Layla, tell me: what would be your dream project to work together on? Imagine we have no budget constraints.

LK:  My dream project with you would be to do a film noir.  A silent short film, which would be really mystical and ethereal in some forest in Romania with crazy props and models and make-up and hair, gowns with beautiful silk trains, and heavy embroidery and something so hard-hitting. I would produce the music for it and make the sonics really dark, edgy and fashion forward. 
I would love for the both of us to have a starring role in that together, and bring all of our talents together to pull them in and bring all our creative friends and make something so iconic and beautiful. I feel like we’re going to manifest this. And what about you? What would be your dream project to work on with me?

RR: I’d honestly love to have a show that would be about fashion and friendship and how two friends can build each other’s creativity and lift each other up. It would be a full-on show that could be live on E! or something (laughs) and would emphasize on how we do it all together, go on road trips, the fun that we have together, how we react to people’s comments, how we react when someone recognizes us, something that could be inspiring for young creatives. Team work, as I think you can agree we found out, is the best, especially when the other member of the team is like a soul mate to you. I’d love to do a show or movie that’d really portray that and inspire a lot of young creatives to find their duo and work on their dreams!

Photography/Dawid Rus
Styling for Layla Kardan / Cynthia Jreige & Gaelle Debahy
Shot at Ayyam Gallery in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
Art by Kais Salman
Layla Kardan is wearing a jumpsuit by Azzedine Alaia
Rabih Rowell is wearing a full look by Anomalous Monism and Christian Louboutin shoes