FEI TV: What part did horses play in your life when you were growing up?
Reem Acra: I always dreamed of horses when I was a little girl and never had the chance to really realise my dream. I tackled horseback riding just before I left Beirut abruptly and I left behind my gear and my helmet. it was a dream that was cut short.
When did you first realise that you were interested in fabric and fashion and design?
Again, when I was a little girl. I still have dresses that I designed when I was five years old hanging in my closet. I didn’t really know at that age that I was going to be a fashion designer, but by the time I was at the american University of Beirut, I had decided to make a career of it and had my first fashion show.
Tell us about your love of nature and how it has influenced you?
When I was a little girl, Saturdays used to be for my fabrics – buying fabrics with my mother in the souks of Beirut – but Sundays were even more interesting. I used to go up the mountains with my brothers and my dad and mother. We would dig in the ground and find amber, then take it home to study it with my father. He was a researcher and a doctor in public health but he had a fascination with nature and for finding things in nature and we used to collect the oldest insects in the world – insects that were encased in amber and were 130 million years old.
How have you used that in your designs?
My collection for 2011 is inspired by amber and by my father’s bugs and insects and some of the prints are from the colouration of his collection. the accessories in the collection are all jewelled bugs, so there are a lot of things inspired by nature.
Tell us about the characteristics that you need to have to be a designer compared with those you need to be a top sports person?
Designer needs to connect with elements - elements like fabric and colour – and the customer. So there is a lot of thinking and a lot of connecting when you are designing a dress or a collection. I think that, in a way, it is very similar to when a rider has to connect with the horse.There is an element of combining and thinking about being one person and I think the stronger this connection is, the more you can achieve.
And what are the similarities between the garment you are creating and a Dressage test?
When you are creating something, you know that you are being tested at the end of the day. People are going to look at the dress and say it is beautiful or it is not beautiful, so there is always a question mark at the end and it’s a kind of competition between you and yourself. It’s the same when you are competing in any kind sport – you are always questioning and you are always riding towards a goal and trying to achieve a great result. So it’s similar in many ways.
What did you want to achieve by becoming the first sponsor of World Cup Dressage?
You know, being the first is the best thing that one can do. it will be in history. I think I will have accomplished a lot by connecting with the customer, by putting my name out there with something that I cherish, with something that I believe in. It is really a sort of advertising, but in a very luxurious way. I think it is very interesting.
Sport is changing all the time, do you have any idea how you would like to see Dressage develop as a sport?
I would love to see more of it and this is one of the reasons that I am sponsoring – you need to see more of it. I think the rest of the world needs to know more about it and I hope that by that we expose it a little bit more. That is very important to me.
The above interview was published in the August 2011 editions of Equestrio Suisse - France - Italy and is available in pdf format here.