Luar SS24 Is Taking Us From Church to the Club
After emerging as an LVMH prize finalist and three-time CFDA awards nominee, Raul Lopez of New York’s beloved NYFW closer Luar is getting his flowers. But with mainstream success comes a push and pull with respectability politics that Lopez explored in his SS24 collection, “Socorro,” beneath a sculpture of speakers (a reference to the booming speakers common in Dominican chipeos, not unlike last month’s Luar x Emcee rager). Before family, friends, and stars pulled up to Bushwick, we joined Lopez in his studio for a closer look at the collection he calls “premium trash.”
RAJAGOPAL: Tell me the story of Socorro.
LOPEZ: I was inspired by this neighborhood called El Hoyo, which means “the hole,” which is this rough neighborhood where my friend lives near where my family grew up [in the Dominican Republic]. As I was standing there, there was a preacher with this church setup on the street, and all the disciples were hanging out on their chairs on the block hearing them preach. But as this was going on, to the left of me there was this whole crowd of people just turning up and having a good time while playing this loud music called “Socorro,” which is a dembow song.
LOPEZ: Socorro means, “help,” but also it’s my mom’s nickname. And it felt like he was kind of preaching to them but they were also asking for help from the preachers across the street through this song. In a weird way, I felt this intersection of where I fall and where Luar falls. Like, I’m very spiritual but I also like to drop it like it’s hot and have a good time. [Laughs]
RAJAGOPAL: Right. How did that translate to the collection?
LOPEZ: I was just taking inspirations from the two worlds and mashing them up. It’s the modesty of a lot of full length and blazers, but they can detach. You can wear the long skirt, but you can also be a little baddie and make it short. But the buttons are also a representation of how we’re pulled away, but we can come back and gather ourselves. In the song, he’s saying, “I’m with god, but I’m also with the enemy. I’m dying in this sea of hate, and as I’m trying to elevate, I’m being pulled back.” So, you’ll see these collars that are pulled back, which is a nod to that line. We’re always trying to save ourselves in some type of way.
RAJAGOPAL: Everything is very versatile.
LOPEZ: Here’s a long dress, but then you have the exposed thighs. It’s a lot of tailoring, a lot of jersey. A lot of people [in DR] wear basics to church because they can’t really afford a lot of it, so I’m interpreting that in my own way.
RAJAGOPAL: Did you want to speak to the sound? Because your collections are always inspired by songs.
LOPEZ: The music is going to be a play on both worlds intertwining. You’ll get the vibe when you hear it. Sound is also… people are at clubs as if it were the church. And music saves a lot of people.
RAJAGOPAL: Yeah. I’m seeing less of the usual Luar shoulder drama.
LOPEZ: Yeah, I’m doing these new shoulders where they’re a little more like collars. I mean, we still have a little shoulder, but they’re like collarbones.
RAJAGOPAL: You can go to church in that.
LOPEZ: Period. Why not? And look good.
RAJAGOPAL: Where else are we wearing this collection?
LOPEZ: Cocktails. The club. She’s definitely going clubbing.
RAJAGOPAL: It’s for all the times you go to the office and then you hit the club right after—
LOPEZ: Exactly. Period.
RAJAGOPAL: And you’re like, “Oh, let me just rip this off.”
LOPEZ: And we have these eyewear cowl neck tops.
RAJAGOPAL: Do you have any church hats? [Laughs]
LOPEZ: No, actually, because they don’t wear church hats in DR. It’s not a thing there.
RAJAGOPAL: Did you grow up going to church?
LOPEZ: Not per se. I come from a Catholic background, but my dad’s side is very different. His mom is Seventh Day Adventist, so, you know, I grew up around both. And they always fight. They’re all going to burn in hell anyways, but they condemn each other.
RAJAGOPAL: Yeah, ultimately.
LOPEZ: So funny. This is like their truce, though.
RAJAGOPAL: The styling and the collection in general is very slinky compared to previous seasons.
LOPEZ: Yeah, I wanted to relax a little more and not be so uptight. But I’m also still trying to show my tailoring side. Like this girl. She goes to church. [Points to a pleated skirt]
RAJAGOPAL: This embroidery you have is also so nostalgic.
LOPEZ: Yeah, I think we all grew up seeing that. There’s also the collar with the hugs and kisses. That’s an homage to the girls with XOXO necklaces.
RAJAGOPAL: Oh, cute. I wouldn’t have clocked that. And I appreciated what you said in the show notes about feeling that push and pull between being seen as respectable in the industry but also being true to yourself. That definitely resonated.
LOPEZ: And it’s giving that too, like, I want to be tailoring, but I’m still this girl who wants a tall tee. I love a T-shirt dress, but I also want to wear a suit. So that’s why we did the men’s dress suits too. It’s a play on that.
RAJAGOPAL: Yeah. We’re seeing so many menswear skirts and dresses, it’s interesting. When you have Dior doing a kilt, it’s like okay, word.
LOPEZ: Thank god, finally.
RAJAGOPAL: But you’re also closing Fashion Week again after a big year of accolades. How does it feel to be presenting this collection now?
LOPEZ: It’s been crazy. It’s a roller coaster. I mean, some things never change, I’m always on edge and my anxiety is at 5,000. But I’m really grateful to be in the position that I am right now, and this actually marks 10 years since my first runway show. It was 10 years ago today, in a park on Chrystie. Crazy.
RAJAGOPAL: Wow. That’s amazing. And in 10 years?
LOPEZ: I mean, I’ll still be doing this. This is the only way to tell my story.
RAJAGOPAL: It feels fresh, I think.
LOPEZ: I’m so used to always doing bulky, so I was like, “Let’s really try to be a classic girl.”
LOPEZ: You don’t always have to be so trashy.
RAJAGOPAL: We love trashy and classy together.
LOPEZ: Premium trash.