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One To Watch: Raquel Allegra

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“I think it’s a very California brand and I would describe myself as a California girl,” says L.A.-based designer Raquel Allegra. Her fans think so, too. “Raquel’s stuff really defines the L.A. Look,” says Nevena Borissova, owner of the local boutique Curve. “She’s from here, she’s that girl, she gets it.”

That look, by Allegra’s definition, is a deconstructed line rich with shredding, webbing, and authentic hand-dyeing techniques that have been tried, tested, and perfected since she launched in 2007 after buying oversized T-shirts from the L.A. County Jail. “I think there is a California aesthetic of luxe hippie in the line even though there is a mass appeal,” she says. “I’m not a trained designer, so I don’t need to overcomplicate things. I design from instinct.” Each season the series of Basics (tees and jersey) and Collection delve deeper into the self-engineered dyeing and print patterns that have become Allegra’s signature. “The shapes have evolved but it shouldn’t be dramatic from one season to the next; it’s the tie-dyes that should be dramatically different.”

For pre-spring ’13 (comprising near equal parts Basics and Collection), Allegra has introduced a batik technique that strategically blocks the saturation of dye to create a more organic texture. The result is a collection that’s full of firsts: tie-dye chiffon that translates to a near skeletal print and the use of a stopper to create deliberately uneven dye patterns and graphic brushstrokes that are hand-painted atop each color. Though she’s encountered challenges replicating her hand-hewn processes on a grand, now global, production scale, the line’s slow and steady pace has meant that consumers have had time to become accustomed to the designer’s somewhat unconventional shapes and take on layering.

Photo: Courtesy of Raquel Allegra

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