Photography: Isabel Magowan & Bogdan Teslar Kwiatkowski
After graduating in 2011 from RISD with a focus in painting, Brooklyn-based Raffaella Hanley decided to shift her focus to making clothes and enrolled in Parson’s MFA program, “Fashion and Society.” During NYFW earlier this month, Hanley unveiled the fruits of her studies, presenting a collection called, “The Shepherdess and the Shell,” for her buzzing new brand Lou Dallas.
“I pull inspiration from books, old magazines and films,” Hanley said, modeling her demure SS ’16 presentation after Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon. “The clothing is based around the phase in Marie’s life [when] she liked to dress up like a peasant. I went to the Palace of Versailles [and] that experience was very influential to the collection.”
The Lou Dallas woman revels in romance, according to the designer; she’s impressionistic rather than realistic, opting for a juxtaposition of girly embellishments with perhaps a disheveled, fraying hem. This aesthetic played nicely in the production’s setting: an Upper East Side apartment, decorated with a rococo-inspired interior. “The space was small,” Hanley said. “The clothes had a boudoir feeling and the show was intimate. I felt the mixed inspirations in the apartment’s decor related to my clothing.”
While the decadence seen in 18th century fashion served as Lou Dallas’ backbone this season, Hanley twisted the inspiration to serve a more progressive 21st century woman. Models wore modified silk caplets with thong bodysuits, costumey babydoll dresses with campy layered tulle and dramatically ruffled sweaters with slim leggings. Technicolor lashes resembled feather dusters and hairstyles looked like drag sisters of Antoinette’s famous pouf.
Lou Dallas’ inspiration: