LUAR FW23: Gangstresses, Heirlooms, and Fur Cocoons
THURSDAY 4:33 PM FEB.16, 2023
After closing out New York Fashion Week at at Faurschou gallery in Greenpoint with Calle Pero Elegante, a bold take on ’80s power dressing, LUAR designer Raul Lopez got on a Zoom call with our senior editor Taylore Scarabelli to discuss the boss bitch inspiration behind his latest collection.
RAUL LOPEZ: Hello?
TAYLORE SCARABELLI: Hi! How are you feeling?
LOPEZ: I’m so exhausted.
SCARABELLI: I’m literally drinking an energy drink out of a Steluar goblet right now. [Laughs]
SCARABELLI: The door was so crazy last night, like it always is. I was trying to get one of the PR girls to get me in through the side and she’s like, “No, you got to go around the front.” I was really proud once I busted in, I was like, “I’m not waiting in line.”
LOPEZ: I’m screaming.
SCARABELLI: It’s part of the experience.
LOPEZ: Of course everybody showed up at the same time, because everybody wants to stunt. It was chaos but I love it.
SCARABELLI: I wanted to ask you how it was working with Stella [Artois]?
LOPEZ: They’ve been super supportive and down, and they let me do whatever I want. My art director did all the sets and they didn’t really chime in. But at first they were like, “What do you want to do? Do you want to put beers on the Ana bag?” And I was like, “Are you on crack?”
LOPEZ: Imagine me putting a six-pack of beer painted on a bag. I was like, “Girl.”
SCARABELLI: That is not elegante.
LOPEZ: It is not elegante. [Laughs] I was like, “Give me your chalice and let me do something with it. I don’t want to do t-shirts and all this other merch shit.”
LOPEZ: And then I came back in two days with the glass, the leather carrier. They gagged. I was like, “Yeah, give me money and I work.”
SCARABELLI: So I have to say, this collection really felt like an extension of your last runway show.
LOPEZ: Yeah. I wanted to talk about all these powerful women from the ’80s and’ 90s. It was me stepping out of the family reunions into the street. It was about people I would see through friends when I visited them at their homes or at parties or whatever. These boss ass bitches that could walk into a room and command all eyes on them from what they were wearing, the partner they had on their arm. I use the term gangstresses, like, “That’s gangsta.” Not meaning like, “They’re going to chop your body up and put you in a bag” type of gangster.
LOPEZ: I wanted to shed light on the women who want to teach their kids that by hustling, you can create these heirlooms that you can hand on from generation to generation. In the hood, it is a fur coat. It’s a Jordan. It’s a jacket. It’s earrings. It’s a chain. Where in a white family, you could get the pearl necklace that was your great-grandmother’s, or a diamond ring. For us, it’s more about the sentiment than the material. In my family, they hand down a hand painted glass cup from my mom’s great-great grandmother. All of them have had the cup and my mom has it still. She doesn’t want to give it to my sister because she doesn’t deserve it. [Laughs]
SCARABELLI: Wait, I wanted to ask you about the fur. Was it real or are you working with faux material?
LOPEZ: No, it was real.
SCARABELLI: You’re not afraid to work with fur?
LOPEZ: No. Why don’t they go fight for human rights first? My people die every single day. These publications tell stylists not to use it so they can check off their boxes, but then [the editors] are wearing full length minks to dinner and crocodile jackets and python boots and calfskin bags that are made out of baby cows. So you got to pick and choose, boo, what you want to do and what you want to say.
LOPEZ: But I also think if you do use fur, it shouldn’t be mass-produced. I think it should be a specialty piece. I did it this season because it was part of the story. I’ve only used fur once before.
SCARABELLI: My favorite piece was the mink cocoon.
LOPEZ: It’s very you and a boot and a little mini.
SCARABELLI: It’s so hot. What were your references for that?
LOPEZ: I was just really obsessed with how these women [in the ’80s] wanted to conceal themselves with hoods or head scarves draped over them, but I didn’t want it to feel too Ava Maria. [Laughs] I was like, “It needs to drape differently.”
SCARABELLI: It was such an interesting variation on the hoodie too, when you did it with the jersey material.
LOPEZ: Oh my god. I’m obsessed with that hoodie. Not just because I made it, but because it fits so good.
SCARABELLI: Okay, so this is a power collection, but then you also had some styling that was very restrictive i.e. the belts around the arms.
LOPEZ: Yeah, ’cause men try to restrict women from doing things. And I think I wanted to show that in a weird way that’s like, “If you get it, you get,” And you got it. People don’t want to dissect anything, they just want to be like, “I’m a fashion girl. I went to a fashion show.” No girl, look at a collection, read it, and then come back to me after you digest it.
SCARABELLI: We also need to talk about the headwear. I love the sequin bonnet, the hats.
LOPEZ: Those hats came out so good. We got this milliner to do it for us. I was gagging when I saw them in person. The way she laid them was so perfect. I wanted them to look almost like tar in a way—the black one where it looked super glossy but elegant because of the feathers. So it’s still a little street and still eleganza.
SCARABELLI: I also really like dresses with the “L” accents.
LOPEZ: You know, you got to stamp a logo.
SCARABELLI: You’ve got to.
SCARABELLI: Do you think you’re going to be able to go into production with more of your ready-to-wear collection this year?
LOPEZ: Yes. So the last collection, a lot of stores bought it, which is crazy. They have some of the dresses in the windows at Bergdorf.
SCARABELLI: I’ve got to go shopping. And then it was just announced today that you were nominated for the LVMH Prize?
LOPEZ: Yeah, I’m one of the semi-finalists, so put that in the press. Everybody needs to vote for me so I can win because I’m the only American.
SCARABELLI: What do you have to do for that?
LOPEZ: I have to go to Paris at the end of the month and I have to showcase the collection to a bunch of “experts,” and I guess sell my ass to them to become one of the finalists. I don’t really know exactly what goes into being a finalist, but I’m going to ask people who’ve done it before.
SCARABELLI: What’s the grand prize?
LOPEZ: I think it’s like 350,000 euros or something like that.
LOPEZ: I know. Give it to me because I need to pay bills.
SCARABELLI: Yes. But it’s still a drop in the bucket. Fashion is expensive and it’s really, really hard to make it. How do you fund your collections? Do you have other patrons?
LOPEZ: No, we just generate money with the bags and the clothes.
SCARABELLI: You’re doing it. It’s all happening. And you’ve already positioned yourself as the queen of New York Fashion Week, closing it out.
LOPEZ: Oh my god. Can you believe that girl? From our Bedstuy days. [Laughs]
SCARABELLI: It’s amazing. Well, congratulations.
LOPEZ: Thank you. I love you, Taylore.
SCARABELLI: Love you too.