Raquel Allegra's come a long way from her first forays into clothing design, when she experimented with recycled t-shirts from the Los Angeles County Prison. Though Allegra was working as a Barney's sales associate in Beverly Hills at the time, her intricately deconstructed tops were so in demand they soon led to her designing a full-scale collection. Her line has certainly evolved since then, but thankfully, she hasn't shifted her focus away from relaxed silhouettes, soft-to-the-touch fabrics, and effortless pieces that positively exude California-inspired comfort. In her S/S 12 collection, Allegra lavishes chic separates, like a tailored blazer and caftan dress, with a sophisticated tie-dye print that's more hip than hippie, allowing the versatile pieces to transition from beach to boardroom depending on how they're styled! Make sure to check out these standout picks from the label's S/S 12 collection and you'll soon count this Line We Love among your favorites too.
Silk Stripe Crochet Tank ($328) in Citrus
Sheer silk tops are one of our favorite warm weather staples, and this delicate striped version has our name written all over it! Not only is the loose, billowy shape just right for pairing with all manner of shorts and skirts, but it also features hand-crocheted detailing down the back. Bonus points: you can wear this top in reverse for a whole new look.
Deconstructed Jersey Caftan Dress ($248, 212.826.8900) in Fern Black Tie-Dye (available at Barney's on March 15)
Swathed in black and white tie-dye print, this long caftan dress is a visually intriguing option for a hot summer's day. Its fluid, breezy shape and bold motif make it a vacation essential, particularly if you're heading off to some tropical paradise, but it's also fashion-forward and flattering on stylish urbanites (just imagine it teamed with gold accents and strappy platforms!).
Deconstructed Jersey Pencil Skirt ($158, 310.230.8882) in Brush Blush Tie-Dye (available at Elyse Walker on March 15)
If you're on the lookout for playful pieces that are suitable enough for your nine-to-five grind (one of the toughest sartorial challenges, in our opinion!), we suggest snagging this slim pencil skirt straightaway. By using a subtler, paler iteration of her signature tie-dye print against an office-appropriate silhouette, Allegra manages to make this must-have skirt equal parts fun and formal.
Silk Shadow Stripe Cropped Blazer ($822) in Navy/Red Print
We own blazers in nearly every sensible shade-black, brown, gray, blue-but Allegra's silk rendition wins us over with its dynamic tie-dye print and vibrant navy and red palette. If you've got a playful sense of fashion, it's just the eye-catching jacket you need for spring; if you possess a slightly more practical, down-to-earth style, then it's ideal for punching up your everyday basics at work or happy hour.
Cotton Gauze Gathered Shorts ($248) in Red
Keep your cool in Allegra's gathered shorts when temps heat up. Though this vivid tomato-red pair is certainly chic, its stretch waistband and soft cotton gauze fabric make you feel as if you're wearing pajamas. Plus, the shorts are easy to dress down (with sandals and a simple top for the beach) or glam up (with heels and a blazer for a night on the town).-Tiffany Tse
Q&A with Raquel Allegra
What inspired the start of your design career?
The motivation has always felt like a basic need and desire to create simple beauty. In starting with the t-shirts, I had an ambition to create something so simple and every day, yet something I had never seen before. As a young girl I would play with draping fabrics on my body; as an adult I very organically found my way into clothing design. The pieces I designed for myself became a jumping-off point when stylists, buyers, and some noteworthy trendsetters began asking for custom one-of-a-kind pieces. It was then that I realized I had a gift for creating special things women seemed to crave, and filling this space felt like a useful, inspiring, and rewarding direction for myself in the world.
What was the inspiration behind this season's collection?
Geometry, engineered prints, personal archive, sci-fi, Sean Young... For me, the design process itself is always an inspiring cycle of idea building and creating. Using archive images of a former Raquel Allegra tie-dye to create a new print fabrication and then engineering this fabric into this season's garments was a launching point for the entire collection. The excitement and success of this experiment has created a foundation element that we now continue to build on each season.
How would you style specific pieces from this collection? Do you have a favorite piece in the collection?
The Shadow Stripe Cropped Blazer in Navy/Red Print over the Lace Bodysuit in Nude with the Gauze Gathered Shorts in Red. My favorite piece is the Basic Tee in Fern Black-always comes back to the tees for me.
What kind of girl do you envision wearing your clothing?
The Raquel Allegra woman loves to layer her clothing. Like the layers themselves, she is complex, multifaceted, and understands and enjoys the subtle complexities of dressing and expressing her individuality through the clothes she wears. Lilakoi and Cate Blanchett come to mind.
How does your design process for a collection start?
Often starting with a print direction, the elements then build with palette and the introduction of texture. A process of creative elimination provides a base for inspiration and development each season. I peruse fabric swatches and begin to investigate and resource, with my team, what textures and colors are available, and which are not-which can shift the direction significantly. Building those elements into the collection, shapes begin to evolve from a diverse pool of inspirations.