By Juleana Enright
Draping and menswear? Don’t be so quick to judge. New to Minnesota via Honduras/California, designer Raul Osorio is transforming the look of traditional “dude” apparel with a little help from his friend androgyny and a whole lot of innovation. Inspired by Grecian draping, charro suits, military jackets and the romance of Hispanic culture, Raul’s exquisite designs are a hybrid of multicultural fashion, blending soft, almost feminine elements with bold color, hard lines and tailored silhouettes. Attentive tailoring appears to be more than just a skill this designer possesses, but perhaps a genetic trait. Raul studied fashion structure and construction under his mother and grandmother in their sewing academy while growing up in Honduras. But honestly, whether it is skill or good genes, we just can’t wait for his collection of embellished jackets and haute toga-esque menswear to hit the Voltage: Fashion Amplified runway!
Raul fills us in on his inspirations and what he's got planned for this year's Voltage...
l'étoile: Your previous collections have focused on the idea of “gender-neutral” wearables. What would you consider androgynous in clothing construction and why do you think this particular style is so relevant to fashion today?
Raul: I love giving an impression of ambiguous sexual identity through my designs. My draped shirts are smart, sophisticated and most importantly gender neutral. My jackets keep a balance between casual and sophisticated with a tailored and clean cut look. You will always find flexibility in my designs. Even though I design for men, I thought about women wearing these clothes as well. I wanted to make the waists of the suit coats appropriate for both genders.
l'étoile: You list traditional charro suits as one of the inspirations for your Voltage collection. What makes this mariachis style so appealing to you and how do you go about reinterpreting a look that inspires you?
Raul: The set of buttons appeals to me… really everything that adorns the suit. It is the full dress ‘charro’ suit. The suits have a unique shape and they must be a bright color. Usually people have to find inspiration first to create an outfit, but I grew up around these objects and this culture. The hispanic culture is very loud, but romantic at the same time. The fighters represent strength but are effeminate at the same time. The suits are basic pieces to me. I need those basic, tailored pieces for everyday and as a young man I had trouble finding suits that were cut well for younger, stylish men.
l'étoile: How has being raised in Honduras affected your design style? Are there certain elements from your culture we will see in your Voltage looks?
Raul: Being raised in Honduras had a huge impact in my design style. Honduran men are for the most part conservative and being fashionable is not their first priority. I was fortunate to have been raised in a family that was open-minded and the owners of a sewing academy. I learned most of design and sewing skills from them. Some of the jackets have beautiful buttons that have the Honduran Crest printed on them. It was an adaptation and hybridization of these two cultures. Coming from Honduras - which is heavily driven by macho men - to Minneapolis - where 'femininity' is okay - I tried to blend these two attitudes.
l'étoile: What Twin Cities spots do you draw inspiration from and how do they inspire you?
Raul: I don’t really look around for inspiration, most of it happens while I sleep. I think about clothes everyday. I go to bed and I wake up with a new idea. It also helps to be surrounded by supportive and inspirational people. I think that Minneapolis has a great and diverse sense of style; people are adventurous. I love vintage stores and finding unique pieces.
l'étoile: Describe the kind of film you could see your Voltage collection featured in. What kind of motif do you think it would embody?
Raul: Any Quentin Tarantino film. I think that designing a piece for a strong, emasculated female, such as Uma Thurman while at the same time designing pieces for Michael Madsen and Bruce Willis, while still thinking about their character, place, and the experience of the viewer. Tarantino definitely plays on the emasculated female, and gender roles are things that I consider with each of my pieces.
For more information on Raul Osorio click HERE
For more info on Voltage: Fashion Amplified and to purchase tickets to the April 16th event at First Avenue click HERE