Raphael Young: A New Shoe Fits




As Paris Fashion Week comes to a close, the city of lights celebrates one of its brightest young things, Raphael Young, right about now Paris time. The artsy cobbler is opening his first ever flagship store at 23, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, which will also act as his showroom and studio as well as a revolving gallery of his favorite photographers’ work. “I wanted to bring the style of New York’s meatpacking district to the city of romanticism,” said Young this weekend. “The first artist we will be showcasing is a special friend of mine, model and actress Rachel Nave.” Just steps away from the Louvre and Palais Royale, the area is a perfect fit for Young’s own teetering geometric pieces.

Young’s shoes are about as close to next-level as one can get, and his Fall collection, the first to be housed in the shop is no different. Inspired by Kepler’s heliocentric hypothesis of the rotation of Earth around the Sun, black leather over-the-knees, furry booties and space-age silver pumps all feature a multi-dimensional heel to give the illusion of the “metaphorical sun.” “I’m particularly focused on the decorative components, which are generally not part of the sole, making them ornamental materials, a service of beauty and art,” said Young. “In addition to the forms that I work directly on wood, I wanted to create other components in 3D and am now freeing myself of the rules of conventional construction.”

Serious stuff for a shoe designer, but when you’ve grown up in the aura of one of fashion’s most inimitable geniuses, that kind of approach to creation must be commonplace. Young was adopted from Seoul at age four, fortuitously to end up in Lyon, the nephew of famed Yves Saint Laurent bottier, Alexandre Narcy, who in turn took him under his wing. Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Young interned at YSL and went on to work for several luxury brands. In 2007, Young launched his eponymous line overseas, following that by expanding in the US and now in Europe. “Starting my fashion career in the biggest fashion house [and] working alongside my uncle was the perfect dream,” he said. “Being adopted by this family made my life and my passion the reason to live today.”