Designer Spotlight: Luar

Designer Spotlight: Luar

In a new column for V, Mathias Rosenzweig highlights up and coming designers to know now. Here, New York City-based designer Raul Lopez whose new brand Luar defies gender binaries, and counts Rihanna as a fan.

In a new column for V, Mathias Rosenzweig highlights up and coming designers to know now. Here, New York City-based designer Raul Lopez whose new brand Luar defies gender binaries, and counts Rihanna as a fan.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

The concept of androgynous clothing is hardly novel, and at times made cliche by major labels, but we shouldn’t forget the visionaries who continue to disrupt the binary gender view of fashion—pushing fashion past its furthest boundary. Raul Lopez, a Williamsburg native who began designing at the ripe age of 12, helped further gender fluidity as a founding member of Hood By Air. Now after a two-year hiatus, Lopez is back with a new line, Luar. A couple of months ago, he showcased those new pieces on the High Line Hotel’s sidewalk—a decided break from the traditional fashion week runway.

According to a statement from Luar’s team, “This season’s collection is inspired by the Luar man, resurrected and reborn in a new form, as the Luar woman.” It’s the designer’s first time specifically designing womenswear, and a very niche version of it at that. Below, we’re premiering a soundtrack by musical duo Gatekeeper, used to fuel the show’s much buzzed about dancehall energy. We also spoke to Lopez about the connection between music and fashion, inspiration for the line, and the future of gender politics.

How do music and fashion blend together for you? What's the importance of their connection?

RAUL LOPEZ Well music and fashion are like peanut butter and jelly—sage and palo santo. Music needs fashion and fashion needs music. I’m into all types of music: dembow, alternative, electroclash, experimental. I love cha-cha music. My mom would sage the house when I was a kid with Ana Gabriel blasting. Now I do the same thing. My brand is the same way. I have a lot of diverse influences, and things that really stick with me from childhood; but I am looking forward, paying attention to everything, and anticipating the next season, and the season after that, all at the same time. Watching the past, present, and future. I have all seeing eyes…like God… or Satan. [laughs]

Who is the Luar woman? 

RL I feel like every woman is the Luar woman. She could be from the South Bronx, or a girl from the Lower East Side. I don’t really like defining her. I mean the Luar woman could be the Luar man, and the Luar man, the Luar woman. I want him or her to be open to interpretation. You tell me…Who is the Luar woman? Who is she?

Can you talk about the models you work with to represent your brand? 

RL For my Spring collection, I worked with kids from the ballroom scene. They walk European Runway. The show started with male models, then moved to gays, and finally a trans woman, representing the birth of the Luar woman now.

What are your biggest inspirations for the line? 

RL I would say my biggest inspiration has always been technology. Luar is a transitional, convertible, livable brand. I’ve been wanting to make wearable technology for a long time. This season was about the iPhone wrap belt. Everyone loves that piece. The ladies in my factory gagged over the iPhone wrap belt. They all want one. It’s gorgeous lambskin, but it’s also hyper-functional. Everyone has smart iPhones, but the Luar girl is wearing hers.

How have you evolved over time as a designer? 

RL From Luar Zepol to Luar was like a caterpillar in its transitional stage. Kind of like the Butterfly Effect. It’s all about the transition. Totally trans.

When did you decide that you wanted to design professionally, as in for your career? 

RL I’ve been designing since I was a kid. I was born to do this. I’ve been around industrial sewing machines longer than I’ve had a computer, or a cellphone. I have always been obsessed with fashion, and designing. When I was a little kid, I started a business ironing everyone’s clothes in my building. I would be ironing for hours, so I could go out and buy a Coogi Suit or Jordans, not because it was cool, but because I lived for it. When I was in high school I would always make my look for the dances. I would deconstruct leather pants, and attach them as sleeves to a denim jacket, always a different look, all of the girls wanted to date me. [laughs]

Where do you think gender fluidity stands at large in this country? 

RL It still has a long way to go. But to me there is no such thing as gender. You should just wear what you feel when you wake up in the morning. There shouldn’t be any restrictions, of what you should wear in life. A woman should be able to wear her husband’s suit one day and he her dress. There shouldn’t be any gender, just be you, without any restrictions or limitations.

Where do you see it going in the next few years? 

RL Right now we are just beginning to shine a light on gender fluidity in this country. We have been living in the dark ages, where trans- and homophobia have had the popular opinion. But we have broken a lot of barriers. Right now, gay people have a lot of visibility, which is fab, because we have a wider influence. I see that only continuing to grow in the future. The Luar kids don’t want to check a. b. or c.; they want to check other, and live outside of the patriarchal constructed gender roles.

How have music and fashion embraced gender fluidity? In the same way, or differently?

RL I mean we live in a time where rappers are starting to wear pearls and dresses, and it’s way more accepted than ever before. At the same time, the ignorance in this country still exists. I mean half of the country wants a racist, homophobic, xenophobic white man for president.* We have a long way to go before the world realizes that gender is irrelevant; it’s the mind that matters. Soon we are going to be living in a society that is populated by AI and human-AI hybrids. I am working on LUAR AI right now. I’m obsessed with robotics. I think it will be really easy to pick an AI out of a crowd of humans. The bots are going to dress so next level.

*This interview was conducted prior to Donald Trump’s election as President.

Credits: Banner Image Rihanna in Luar sleeves, via Instagram

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