Perhaps 21-year-old Louai Alama is best known for being the son of Lebanese entertainment sensation Ragheb Alama. However, the young model is breaking into the fashion space with a determination to create his own legacy. He's built a following of over half a million on TikTok for his videos that capture his lifestyle, fashion, and sense of humor. Aside from his social platform, he's also signed to IMG and continues to grow his portfolio in Paris and London: where he's worked with brands like Prada and Fendi and has walked at Milan Fashion Week. Having recently moved to New York and looking to expand his fashion career, Alama talks about his personal goals and intentions.
How did you get into modeling?
My start in modeling was a complete accident. One day, I was attending my father’s show at Olympia in Paris (Alama’s father is an Arab musician, Ragheb Alama), and I got discovered by an IMG model scout and signed with IMG Paris.
Where are you based?
I just moved to NYC, but I am always on a plane—endlessly traveling, discovering new places and evolving. My nature is very spontaneous and I’m an adrenaline junkie at heart.
What is the most important gift modeling has given you?
I was sort of an awkward kid growing up. Very shy and reserved. Modeling has helped me come out of my shell. It’s helped me work on myself and overcome my fears. The most important thing it has taught me is that beauty comes from the inside out. Beauty is about self confidence, honesty, and kindness.
Tell us about how you’ve been disrupting fashion perceptions in the Middle East as an Arab model.
I wore a pink Prada jumpsuit to the Prada FW22 show in Milan, Italy. There was an unexpected backlash and outrage from certain people in the Middle East. I received death threats. Endless messages reading that “pink is only for girls”. All simply because I wore pink. This show of an archaic way of thinking that still exists in the East made me realize that there is still a lot of work to be done toward modernization. It showed me that I can be a part of the change. For more diversity and the freedom of self expression. I am so proud to be able to be one of the pioneers of this through fashion. Although there has been backlash, there has also been an incredible amount of support which I hold dear to my heart. It fuels me to keep going and to be fearless. After all, fashion is change—not only in seasons but also perceptions. It allows us to choose how to express ourselves. It showed me that fashion is more than just threads.
What do you want to represent in the fashion space?
When it comes to modeling there is a lack of representation of Arab models, particularly men. I want to break the glass ceiling here, do away with stereotypes and be a small bridge of understanding into our cultural similarities rather than focus on our differences with the rest of the world. The truth is that today the world has gotten so much smaller that East and West seems to be an antiquated concept. Every shoot for me is a win in this respect and a way for me to do a small part in changing perceptions. I am a reflection of an underrepresented group from the Middle East. The Arab youth culture is so diverse but very little spotlight is shed on it. I am hoping to be the Arab man who is in the fashion conversation and represent just one facet of what it means to be a young progressive creative Arab man in the world today.
Photographer: David Simon Dayan
Creative Director and Stylist: Avo Yermagyan
Grooming: Aika Flores
Set Dressing: Isaac Aaron
Location: Villa Splendido courtesy of Malibu Real Estate Investments LLC