Inspired by nature “interrupted by the urban environment”, Singapore fashion label Raoul’s Spring Summer 2013 collection combined perforated leather, lace and silk to create a very “light” range of dresses and separates.
Returning to what are now becoming signature design features like evening dresses featuring non-fabric necklines – previously using metal and in this collection a pave stones or over-embroidered pieces – and multi-use “suits” of tonal or similar patterned fabrics, the collection is very wearable.
While the shapes and cuts of the Raoul silhouette remain reminiscent of the 1960s and 70s – popular periods the designer Odile Benjamin returns to every season – the fabrication has softened with fewer solid colour blocks, more fluid forms like pleating and pique-cut hems, and less garish colour ways.
New neutrals like bleach, rosewater, cameo and haze are offset with black; brighter shades have a dusty undertone that makes them less strong to the eye despite names like carbon blue, geranium, fluro orange, jellybean and limelight.
Once again, however, it is the prints that stand out. Raoul is becoming known for its understated, elegant geometric prints.
This is where the “nature interrupted” concept is clear, the hand-drawn floral print and the flattened clover flowers remain nicely geometric and not too literal; the irregular stripe adds colour without losing the minimalist feel when used on a variety of fabrics including crisp shantung, crepe de chine and silk georgette.
A retro 70s line print of interlocking geometric shapes is obviously the “urban environment” part of the design equation; it’s been nicely translated into a series of separates including shell tops, box-pleated skirts and a pyjama pant.
More flowers appear as elaborate embroidery; as the bodice of a strapless column gown, as the aforementioned neckpieces on evening gowns and as cute peaked sleeves on a shell top. A an off-white cocktail dress has yet more, different but similar, jewelled embroidery on its bodice.
The leather pieces in the Raoul Spring Summer 2013 collection are laser cut to create lace-like patterns and to add more lightness to the overall design, as do the soft colours.
Geometric, open-worked pique lace is appliqued against a cotton poplin, crepe or stretch-twill fabrics to create a subtle layering of colour; it works particularly well on a neat t-shirt shape and walking shorts. The same lace is used on its own to create open fretwork-like yokes on simple dresses, adding a ladylike elegance.
While generally the collection as a whole hangs together well, there are a few pieces that seem to fit less well. A long waistcoat worn with a long-sleeved blouse and cropped trousers appears to be from an entirely different collection despite being in the same fabric as a neat halter-necked day dress; likewise the two swimsuits seem out of place, less integrated, than the other pieces, the strong line work and cutouts seemingly too strong against the rest of the range.
Altogether, however, this collection is a strong one for Raoul. It’s received a lot of attention from the American fashion press with popular style blog Refinery29 and industry icon Women’s Wear Daily both reporting positively on the new season collection. Of course, the brand has already received the royal stamp of approval after the Duchess of Cambridge wore a Raoul outfit on her recent trip to Singapore.
For Singapore fashion lovers, the Raoul Spring Summer 2013 collection has much to covet; the light colours, lighter fabrics and neat silhouettes make it the perfect label for updating your work wardrobe. It’s evening pieces in particular this season are wonderfully wearable and quite distinctive, I suspect the stone-embellished dresses will be snapped up immediately.
Raoul Spring Summer 2013 will be available in Raoul stores from March, 2013. Raoul boutiques are located at Paragon Shopping Centre, #02-49, Tel: 6737 0682; Raffles City, #01-13, Tel: 6334 5023 and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, #B2-17, Tel: 6509 4296. For more information about Raoul, go to www.raoul.com.