Raul Melgoza Shares his Inspiration for Luca Luca's Fall Collection at Fashion Week (Exclusive)
Raul Melgoza, the Creative Director at Luca Luca whose Fall 2011 Collection will debut at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York next week, is not your run-of-the-mill fashion designer. Not by a long shot.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Melgoza has a resume that would likely impress the suits on Wall Street just as much as the creative types in the fashion industry.
After earning a degree in finance from University of Southern California, Melgoza worked for American Express's financial advisory division before taking a position with the U.S. Treasury. But he has known since he was a young boy that he would one day end up in fashion.
"When I was seven or so, I remember watching an episode of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous with Robin Leach that featured Oscar de la Renta," Melgoza told Luxist. "Being of Latin descent, I immediately felt connected to this man and to this world that I did not know existed."
Later on, while attending business school, Melgoza took a marketing class and became aware that he could converge his interest in art and design and his knowledge of commerce. "That led me to research design schools," he recalls. "I knew that business was just a foundation and that I didn't want to do it for the rest of my life."
Melgoza enrolled in a night school classes where he studied design at a local community college before applying to the Parsons School of Design. "I got in and moved to New York where I knew absolutely no one," he says. "I knew I had to do well in school because I knew no one. I worked around the clock."
While a student at Parsons, Melgoza worked at Vera Wang to hone his skills and techniques and upon graduation in 2005, he joined Luca Luca. There, Melgoza worked closely with its founder, Luca Orlandi, and quickly rose to the position of senior designer.
Now, six years later, Melgoza is the design house's Creative Director and is busy finishing up the touches of his latest collection for Luca Luca. Melgoza's explains that his inspiration for the Fall 2011 collection is the story of a woman who is a running through the woods as she discovers the beauty, the color and the sanity that exists in the woods. The collection will be presented at Fashion Week on Thursday, February 10 at Lincoln Center in New York.
"As she starts her journey, she is in very tailored, equestrian-inspired silhouettes," he says. "She is wearing a lot of laces and transparent and sheer fabric as if she is shedding her very layered looks as she ends her journey."
The day wear collection features several layered, tailored pieces, as well as furs, wools and silks, says Melgoza. "I wanted to keep her layered so that underneath the layers there is soft, flowy chiffons," he explains. "I wanted to incorporate a lot of different weights and a lot of color as opposed to staying dark and heavier as you would typically think of a fall collection."
The designer believes his customers will want to wear color in the fall. "Everyone is a bit more optimistic about the economy, which is why I wanted to showcase color during what otherwise is normally a darker time," he says.
Melgoza started off being inspired by the gear worn by equestrians. "I extended that by being creative," he says. "I imagined a woman riding her horse through the woods. But what does she do after that? So I took her on a journey. I extended the experience of being in the woods. The woman who I had in mind is definitely an adventuress. She is a strong woman who is very confident but at the same time, very feminine."
The signature of the Luca Luca brand and of Melgoza's personal aesthetic is to create clothing that is not of a particular season. "It is well designed so it has a long shelf life," he says. "It will be styled, but in general, there is always a classic foundation to it."
The Fall 2011 Collection features a lot of lace, says the designer. "I had this idea of the meta-morphing of a brocade into a lace or a print into a lace," he says. "So it goes from dense to sheer. The idea of fabrication mimicking her journey. As she traveled through the woods, fabrication goes from dense brocade to a lace that is almost sheer."
The fur in the collection ranges from alpaca and fox to mink. "There will also be a lot of leather and suede, as it is important to have a lot of texture," says Melgoza.
There are prints and a lot of textures, while the colors Melgoza selected include olives, burnt sienna, butterscotch, grey, some fuscias, as well as as earth tones and neutrals mixed throughout the collection.
While Luca Luca in general has long had a reputation for being worn by celebrities on the red carpet and to special occasions, Melgoza's desire is to broaden its scope even further. "I want to push the idea of sportswear that can go from day to night," he explains. "My signature is more tailored, a more sculpted silhouette, but still feminine."
Luca Luca clients can expect to see more versatility with pieces that can be dressed up and down easily, he says.
Melgoza gives credit to Tim Gunn for helping him land Luca Luca as his first job after he graduated from Parsons. Gunn, who was dean of the school at the time, recommended Melgoza for the position. It wasn't a hard sell: Melgoza graduated at the top of his class and was nominated Designer of the Year.
Expect to see more great things from Melgoza in the future.
Luca Luca distributes its line through its own boutiques in New York on Madison Avenue, in Chicago on Oak Street, in Palm Beach on Worth Avenue and in Miami at Bal Harbour Shops. Additionally, Luca Luca can be found throughout the world in specialty stores and selected Neiman Marcus department stores in the U.S.