Most designers during Fashion Week prefer using a venue’s available set up for their shows. But in a world full of silk, taffeta, satin, lace, organza and tulle — among other fragile fabrics — you will also find room for an original designer’s vision and point of view through the use of tarpaulin or plastic, denim and edgy metal pieces, where color blocking is taken to another level with the help of the lighting ambiance.
“Since my collection heavily references my time as a high schooler, I really wanted to use one of the clubs that was around when I was partying in my freshman year. Working with Webster Hall on the show, and on our collaboration tees, was definitely a highlight of the season for me. There was a heightened sense of drama that only Webster Hall could lend to the show,” designer Raul Lopez explained about why he chose to present his Luar Zepol collection at the iconic New York club. It was, for sure, one of the most original shows during New York Fashion Week Spring 2015, and guests were individually taken to their seats by a host holding a flashlight.
Luar Zepol , the brand’s name, comes from its designer‘s label written backward. Lopez, who was born and raised in Williamsburg, is from Dominican Republic descent and started designing at age 12. Although you might think he is a new face on the fashion scene, Lopez founded Hood by Air in 2006 with Shayne Oliver before leaving that partnership and opening his own label in 2011.
“HBA taught me a lot of lessons about hard work,” Lopez told TheBlot Magazine about that first experience. “It was a stepping stone to get me where I am today, and in many ways, really helped me to find myself and my voice. Shayne Oliver is one of the hardest-working people I know, and in this game of chess, he definitely knows how to hit checkmate!”
The Luar Zepol Spring/Summer 2015 collection screamed a personal point of view where Lopez’s vision invited the guests into a world with masculine crop tops, unusual cutouts, parachute pants, patchwork, cargo chaps, fringe details, bra-strap details, cord wires into cornrows … it was punk-meets-military references under an Illuminati Luar Zepol logo projected above the runway, where models, rather than walking in a straight line, walked in circle as a ritual preparation for combat.
“That energy was definitely intentional! I wanted to convey the feelings I had when I was thrown in to high school. There was an ongoing war within the school, with all the cultures and different cliques in school going at it — just because of skin color or what your preference in lifestyles were. It made no sense, but for many kids, it dictated their lives,” Lopez said, reflecting on the intense mood of the show, which was eased by the surprise appearance of model Omahyra Mota on the catwalk, who is also from Dominican Republic. She rocked it!
“The Luar customer is the man of tomorrow, today,” Lopez said. “He’s someone who isn’t afraid to want to live in tomorrow. Luar customers have a tough skin, strengthened even further by Luar garments, which serve as an added protective layer of armor with which to face this world.”
But Lopez isn’t just talking about his customers — the profile of his brand is also clearly a definition of who the designer is and what he stands for.
“Staying true to yourself above all is the real weapon. Success is waiting for you, it’s right there! Get with the program, just take and run with it,” replied Lopez when I asked what is the most valuable weapon for a young designer to compete in a world dominated by luxury brands.
Well, if Raul Lopez has successfully done it before, he can surely deliver it again.