Designer to Watch: Raul Lopez of LUAR

By Haley DePass

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Raul Lopez with two looks from fall/winter 2018. Photo: Elvin Tavarez/Travis Grumbs

Simplicity, sex appeal, and gender neutrality. These are just a few words to describe the designs created by Raul Lopez, the founder of LUAR. Raul has found well-deserved success, creating majorly on-trend, gender-fluid clothing that remains astonishingly ahead of the curve. Raul Lopez has effortlessly combined geometric complexity with ethereal sexuality, and his unique clothing has naturally found its way to the likes of Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, and even Kylie Jenner who rocked an amazing LUAR cropped jacket during a photoshoot for Evening Standard Magazine.

Raul Lopez was born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He was a former co-founder of Hood By Air, however decided to deviate from the company to begin his own label.

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The self-taught designer contributes some of his design influence to Dominican men’s ability to put a masculine twist on a female garment. Raul Lopez was a self proclaimed “flamboyant” child while growing up between the Dominican Republic and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In an interview with THE CUT, Raul remembers how his flamboyancy was not shunned, but rather celebrated in the Dominican Republic. Contradictory to the treatment he received grown up in 90s Brooklyn, where he was more likely to be called derogatory names, or even be physically assaulted.

Just as in most families where talents such as music or athletics are passed down the line, the same goes for Raul Lopez and his own family. He comes from a household of tried and true sewing masters. His grandmother was a seamstress in the Dominican Republic, followed by his mothers and sisters who were seamstresses in the Garment District during the 1980s. 

Lopez has always been something of a renaissance man in New York, which is likely why his designs are so diverse. He is actually quite involved in the ballroom dance scene, which is where he met Shayne Oliver, who was his partner in the creation of Hood By Air.

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It is easy to see how ballroom culture has influenced his designs as well, as he often creates dresses that are so complimentary to the natural movements of the human body. 

LUAR manages to perfectly implement couture streetwear with the bold femininity of drag queen culture. Lopez can somehow make softer fabrics seem masculine, and turn harsher fabrics into sexy, feminine designs. LUAR does not want to dictate the subcultures he draws influence from, but rather complement them; bringing their individualistic beauty to the forefronts of visual social media. The label’s Instagram bio actually says, “FOR THE CULTURE”.

When it comes to designers who are on the precipice of joining the ranks of names like Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Zac Posen, and Anna Sui, Raul Lopez might have to be a name we keep tabs on. He pours authenticity into his designs, and many would argue that authenticity is the key to longevity in the fashion world. Lopez understands the importance of connecting with is roots to create a design that is inclusive of the sub-cultures that have made him who he is today.

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