Raoul is a label on the move. Fall 2014 marks the Singapore-based contemporary line's Lincoln Center debut -- making good on Fashionista's earlier prediction -- and a "fresh start" on bags and shoes in collaboration with Paris-based Raphael Young. All efforts point to a new push in luxury, geared towards a decidedly younger, global market at (relatively) affordable prices (Raoul pieces start at $250).
In fashion conglomerate Cliff's Notes, Raoul is designed by husband-and-wife team Douglas and Odile Benjamin of FJ Benjamin, the holdings company that distributes Céline, Tom Ford, Givenchy and others across Asia. Referencing the parent company's pedigree, Raoul's contemporary luxury foray takes industry hallmarks -- ample furs, hair hides, silks and feathers -- and serves them up in pared-down shapes and price points.
Apparel varied between '60s-inspired, sleek separates and languorous Gatsby-eque silhouettes, all with wearability in mind. Rock glamour references came full force with footwear, for which Young, who previously headed up shoe design for Calvin Klein, put forth a collection of minimal shapes with elements of futurism. Sporty chic showed staying power once again, with versions of skimmers in quilted leathers, hides and metallics. If bags are the entry point of luxury, Raoul is hedging for mass appeal, offering traditional shapes with occasional pops of texture and color, including Aurora Red, one of Pantone's colors of the season.
As the label's moves suggests, New York is an important hub for Raoul and the young luxury market at large. Odile reconfirmed an ongoing search for a New York retail flagship location, in addition to London.
"We are gaining traction in the U.S., and we realize we need to make bold moves," she says.