NOTHING'S GOING TO STOP RAOUL: Raoul is on a roll with its global expansion. Besides showing in Paris Fashion Week every season, the Singaporean fashion brand opened its second international showroom in Milan (after New York) in December last year to launch its first pre-autumn 2012 women's collection, followed by its first in-store retail outlet at Bloomingdale's department store in New York in March. Then, raoul.com got an extensive makeover to enhance the online shopping experience, writes Cheong Phin
WITH A-list Hollywood stars such as Oscar nominees Viola Davis and Jennifer Lawrence of The Hunger Games fame choosing to wear its dresses at red-carpet events this season, Raoul is fast becoming an international player in the lucrative fashion retail industry today.
The Singapore label, helmed by the husband-and-wife team of Douglas and Odile Benjamin, stepped up its game in the face of increasing sales by introducing its first pre-autumn 2012 women's collection this month.
The new collection revolves around an equestrian theme, featuring signature minimal sensibility of easy, coordinated separates and dresses with a dose of the rich textures of the saddle, tailored looks of the show jumper and the bold colours of the jockey in red, vanilla and black.
A graphic mix of "devore dot" and "tick" prints dance around this colour palette on loose, drop-waist blouses with bold red chevron panels (borrowed from the jockey top) that evoke a 1920s effect when paired with a "tick" print pleated skirt.
The harlequin check from the jockey's top is translated into a cheeky diamond-shape peek-a-boo on the diamond mini dress in black or clementine (seen recently on Lawrence in the Late Night Show with David Letterman).
The equestrian spirit of high collars and riding coats in show-jumping, on the other hand, is reflected on black suede-front turtlenecks and signature scarf blouses tied high around the neck above a suede pinafore or let loose over a pleated wool crepe dress while a georgette blouse, buckled high at the neck with a mini suede saddle strap is matched with burnt olive suede high-waisted paper bag trousers.
Elsewhere, the stripes of the race track are reinterpreted as graduating graphic lines in black and vanilla on a silk georgette jockey bib and shift dresses with flyaway red trimmings or bordering the hem of pleated skirts.
Tweed -- a dominant fabric of the riding set and popular autumn material -- is rendered on an elegant ensemble of button-down midi skirt and riding jacket cinched at the waist with a wide belt or brown dress trimmed on the shoulder and waist with donkey suede.
The suede also appears on a perforated tunic that is blanket-stitched and piped in white leather or added a modern edge to a rouge double georgette blouse. Shoulder bags and clutches incorporate influences of the saddle and chevron panels.
Signature long evening dresses are not forgotten and breezed into the pre-autumn collection in a brazen shade of clementine, and black and white combination.