Los Angeles designer Raquel Allegra made a name for herself back in 2006, turning reclaimed L.A. County Jail tees into one-of-a-kind shirts with her signature shredding and tie-dye technique. Those edgy, cocoon-shaped tees found a following with the skinny jeans-wearing, young Hollywood set (Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Penelope Cruz), and sold to stores worldwide, including Maxfield and Harvey Nichols.
Since then, Allegra has been on a slow build, creating a full-scale clothing line and a newly launched e-commerce store.
For spring 2012, her collection is more refined and grown-up than ever before. The tie-dyes have evolved into prints made by photographing tie-dyes from her archives, and turning them upside down and sideways. The resulting repeating patterns are tribal-meets-Op Art. In earthy shades punctuated by bold cobalt blue, red, black and white, the prints appear on breezy shirt dresses, tees and jersey jumpers, as well as more structured blazers and shorts. The look is bohemian, but dressed up enough to go to the office or out to dinner.
Allegra also kept the shredding to a minimum, using lace for layering pieces instead. She used the same light touch when designing Lisa Bonet's stunning strapless white Emmys gown, which had a delicate, lace-like shredded black overlay.
“With the layers upon layers of deconstructed fabric, I felt like we created a kind of lace with that dress," said Allegra, who is engaged to Lady Gaga's music video producer Steven Johnson. Could designing a wedding gown be in her future? Perhaps, she said, though "working with 8 feet of jersey is not an easy thing.”
The Raquel Allegra collection, $300 to $900, at Barneys New York, Curve, Elyse Walker, Heist and other stores.
-- Booth Moore
Photos of Raquel Allegra's spring 2012 collection. Credit: Margo Ducharme.