Self-taught Dominican American designer Raul Lopez aka Luar is a powerful voice for today’s genderfluid fashion. He marked the Fall 2019 season with an era defining collection featuring twenty-one genderfluid looks modeled by a show stealing cast of models. Now in his 30’s, Lopez has created an impressive body of work, including co-founding the cult fashion label Hood By Air with his friend Shayne Oliver. More recently he was nominated for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. This season, Lopez looked to the decade straddling the turn of the millennium from 1996-2005, which was a pivotal era for his own sense of self identity and gender expression. This collection in part is an homage to the teenage girls he idolized in Brooklyn who inspired him as a pre-teen, and influenced his sense of style and attitude. The vibe is confident and defiant filled with powerful avant garden silhouettes featuring a blend of deconstructed tailoring mixed with feminine draping, extra wide-legged trousers and micro-mini skirts topped by glossy ultra-coiffed hairdos. Luar opened the show with genderfluid model Fish Fiorucci wearing a pale, chambray denim suit sans shirt over low slung trousers that the term “wide-legged” doesn’t even being to describe. His signature volumizing panels zipped on to the front and back of each leg creating huge flares from the hip down that flapped wildly with each step. Reminiscent of the enormous Jnco jeans seen at malls in the late 90’s. Elsewhere in the collection the zippered panels created somewhat retro-futuristic silhouettes that looked both structured and fluid, melding masculine and feminine nuances.
Luar’s silhouettes are both provocative, yet elegant especially when paired with pieces such as a longline fitted blazer. His tailoring is playfully deconstructed, and references traditional office wear represented by pinstriped suits and jackets melded with feminine teenage staples such as pleated skirts and tank tops. Invisible zippers ran down the backs of jackets allowing for an optional sliced effect along each seam. Some jackets featured armholes punched out through the back to allow the sleeve to become a draping element. A pair of trousers was hybridized with a pleated mini-skirt, half pants, half skirt. A number of pieces featured abstract draping, occasionally strapped in place with belts running through the garments in unusual ways. A pair of pinstriped trousers trailing long tails of fabric were held up by another model walking behind. In another look, a model wore detachable arm sleeves in a similar fabrication coordinated with daring, low-cut, voluminous, A-line trousers, and a bare torso.
The closing look, a cropped, black fur jacket with huge transformer sized sleeves struck just the right balance between sculptural, futuristic, and editorial statement piece. The sleeves which look totally dysfunctional on the runway actually include a hidden armhole which allows the wearer to push the arms out through the massive dangling fur panels. Still more fashion than function, but that’s the nature of the runway. A more wearable fur coat featured earlier in the collection was based on a popular biker style jacket from Lopez’s Spring 2018 collection this time reworked in fur intarsia.
It’s clear that Luar is working towards a more commercial, more sellable line, though this blend of boundary pushing fashion and wearable clothing is a hard mark to hit. At the very least, Luar has helped put genderfluid fashion on the map in a very big way, and no doubt has done his own share of influencing and inspiring a younger generation behind him. Still it takes guts to wear Luar, and that’s just the way Raul Lopez wants it to be.