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LRS SS17 campaign New York
LRS SS17 campaignPhotography Sam Rock

New label LRS is inspired by acid trips and it girls

Founder Raul Solis discusses his past at Proenza, design in NYC and going solo

Womenswear label LRS started out as something of an experiment. For its New York based founder Raul Solis, the label was a way to help him build and diversify his design portfolio after spending four years working for Proenza Schouler. Now, LRS is five collections deep, stocked at Opening Ceremony and shows at New York Fashion Week.

The label itself features avant-garde and artistic pieces like dresses with gloved sleeves and thigh-high caiman cowboy boots – an ode to the designer’s Mexican heritage. For SS17, Solis created a dystopian-inspired collection, with references to the dark side of 1980s club kids. The trippy campaign – shot by Sam Rock and debuted above – is an artistic reflection of these ideas, with the photos titled and intensified by awkward, statuesque poses. Solis tells us more.

Why did you decide to start LRS and what were you doing prior?

Raul Solis: Previously, I was working for Proenza Schouler. I was designing their denim and started their denim business. After four years, their department seemed pretty structured and self-sufficient, so I decided to leave and that’s when I started LRS. My portfolio was too denim-heavy and didn’t have any ready-to-wear, so originally it was a project for my book and I had allocated to have a year off from working. After the first project, it just continued into a second collection and started slowly progressing and getting attention. Now I’m five collections in and still going with it!

How do you feel it’s different working for a huge brand like Proenza Schouler versus working for yourself? Do you prefer being your own boss?

Raul Solis: There are pros and cons. Working in a studio that’s that well kept with a huge budget, endless resources and travel inspiration is just beyond inspiring. Working with people everyday who are extremely talented and love what they do is something very awesome. Working on my own means I’m the studio most of the time by myself, so the commodity of having an actual team is something I miss. 

“If i think of the wildest thing, I’ll start making it just to see what it looks like. Sometimes it works sometimes, it doesn’t... but the freedom’s there” – Raul Solis

But do you think being autonomous inspires more creativity?

Raul Solis: For sure, I feel way more open to exploring ideas. While working for Proenza, I had liberty to do certain things but at the end of the day, it was obviously a bigger business – we were looking at sales and numbers. Here in my studio, if i think of the wildest thing, I’ll start making it just to see what it looks like. Sometimes it works sometimes, it doesn’t... but the freedom’s there.

From glove dresses to asymmetrical silhouettes, LRS is theatrical and playful. Bits and pieces remind me of archival Margiela. Where do you get your general inspiration from?

Raul Solis: It’s super referential. I look at everything, I look at fashion a lot for sure. I’m a big fashion lover and yeah, I’m a huge Margiela geek so I’m sure it comes out of that! I’m also really inspired by youth culture, the club scene and all the crazy wild kids – they’re the ones who would wear the clothes and not think it’s occasional dressing. Art too, I look at so many things – even a gesture or the way a girl holds bag can be inspiring to me. 

Reviewing your stand out pieces, like the thigh high boots you made for SS16, it’s clear that the brand draws upon your Mexican heritage. What part does your background play in LRS?

Raul Solis: I try to incorporate it as much as possible where it seems to fit. 99.9% of the things I produce are US produced, but things that don’t get produced in the US are produced in Mexico. That’s how I try to stay connected. Most of my family is in the US, I don’t really have a connection to it other than making sure it doesn’t disappear. I love the culture and am always trying to find Mexican artists to work with me.

How did the SS17 campaign come together and what’s the concept?

Raul Solis: Alison (Marie Isbell) styles and consults with me, she’s someone that’s in and out of the studio and a current reference point. I pretty much design the collection and then she comes in towards the end and we touch base, it’s a constant conversation. We work with certain creative people we are really into. People are interested in the brand now and actually willing to work with us. The idea of the campaign came from the work of Sam Rock, the photographer. I wanted to inject LRS in to his world. I wanted to make sure the models projected energy even though they are mostly laying down. The campaign is an extension of the trippy feel of the collection. 

What are some of the ideas you’re exploring?

Raul Solis: When I was designing, I was looking a lot at drug parties and acid trips. My AW collection was a little softer and was a little more conceptual and this season, I wanted the clothes to be understandable and wearable but still filtered through colour and energy. A challenge was doing colour and making it not look happy.

New York has cultivated a new scene for gender fluid and unisex designers – how do you feel about this movement and does LRS fits within it? 

Raul Solis: I’m definitely not rebelling against it. I feel like I’m a part of it because its more conceptual than what New York used to be, it probably comes from being independent and I feel like all the young designers who came up are in the same situation, going nuts exploring ideas cause no one’s holding us back and saying something about investments. We have the liberty to do whatever comes to mind. My label is mainly a RTW label, it’s not advertised as unisex. In that sense, I’m not in the same realm. When we cast we do include trans or sexually fluid people but never with a specific message – we cast people based on their look or attitude and what they do to the clothes. 

How do you feel New York City inspires your ideas?

Raul Solis: It’s the ‘don’t give a fuck’ attitude. It’s that creative runway girl who moved from the middle of the country. It’s that romanticised idea of coming to New York and being as individual and wild as possible because you weren’t able to before. It’s that freedom that New York gives you.

If you could do a dream collaboration, who would it be with?

Raul Solis: Raf Simons! I’m a total fashion geek. a lot of my designs come from minimalism even though they don’t show, and I get a lot of that from Raf. I loved it when he was at Jil Sander

Do you feel like you have taken any of the ideas from Proenza and applied them to LRS? Do you feel the two brands have similarities?

Raul Solis: They both have the idea of modern fashion girl, it’s still a cool, relevant it-girl. Aside from that, it’s so different... my girl is just a bit looney and wants to push it. 

But, they’re both very New York!

Raul Solis: Exactly! They’re definitely girls who are at the same party. 

What’s your plan for the brand going forward?

Raul Solis: I just want to make the money to continue. Right now, the overarching goal seems so far away, it’s so hard for new labels like mine. I’m still trying to put on the next collection that’s as far as I can look forward. 

Are you going to put on a show next NYFW?

Raul Solis: Yes, I just started planning. I’m excited, hopefully it’s all in place. The last season, we had a show in the Lower East Side and it was so amazing. It was very well received. It was my first runway show and I’m trying to do that again, seeing the collection move was amazing, it’s easier to tell a story with music and movement and lights.

A little more drama!

Raul Solis: Yes, and I love drama!