Trying to speak with Raul Lopez after his phenomenal and electric Luar spring 2022 show was like trying to speak with the President or Cher—it required agility, flexibility, and a willingness to wait. It’s not that Lopez didn’t want to talk about his triumphant return to New York Fashion Week, it was just that he could barely get a word, let alone a breath, in between well-wishes from Lourdes Leon, Kerby Jean-Raymond, and others. I counted over a dozen people who stopped him for a hug in the eight minutes we spoke. Who am I to stand between a beloved designer and his community?
Even sitting amongst the Luar lovers was a delight. His show’s Bushwick venue was so packed that a colleague and I shared a folding chair and then a friend, bolting in right before the show started, sat on our laps. (We weren’t the only huddled up group. Ian Isiah brought his puppy.) The closeness of the audience meant that every whoop, every bit of applause, and every gasp was felt not by one person, but by us all, a sensation that gave an already electric return a potent charge.
The rager nature of the catwalk belied Lopez’s meditative state. He cashed out of fashion right before the pandemic, casting away to Grand Cayman to decompress. The pressures of the industry were weighing on his mental health and I have to commend him for being a designer to first, know when to pump the brakes, and second, be willing to speak about it publicly.
Over the two years he spent off the fashion grid, Lopez recalibrated his ideas about his label. Luar was the pearl, the emotional, beautiful, fragile center of his creative work. His spring 2022 collection was a statement of everything he loves: sweatshorts, sexy suiting, a fluid identity, and his Dominican heritage. The jersey shorts, shirts, and ties looked particularly compelling in a sort of naughty way, as did the pieces held together with a tiny beige leather band across the chest. However tender, the pearl of Luar is still about looking good and feeling hot. Mission accomplished tonight.