Raoul: Chic with a capital C

A selection from Raoul’s autumn/winter collection (left to right): Toga leather and silk gown, Effortless leather shift dress and Heritage gown.

I recently wrote an article about Singaporean brands and I wanted to introduce you to my favourite – Raoul. The name kept cropping up in British magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and I fell in love with its minimalist lines and rich fabrics (think Yves Saint Laurent meets Celine). It must have been fate because a few weeks later I found myself sitting next to its founder at a lunch.

The brainchild of Singaporean-born Douglas Benjamin and his wife Odile, the brand isn’t exactly new. Funnily enough it started off as a shirt brand nine years ago and eventually branched out into women’s separates in 2005. It was only in 2008 that the brand underwent a major revamp with an international design team including uber stylist Haidee Findlay-Levin. Since then editors have been lapping it up, including yours truly.

The line features what I like to call classics with a fashion edge. The look is sophisticated and feminine but balanced with sharp tailoring giving it a modern look. Best of all it comes at an affordable price point– a silk and leather dress for example would retail around HK$3,000. “It’s an in betweener,” says Benjamin. “It encapsulates the essence of Raoul and where fashion is going towards in the next few years – we’ve had designer, high street and fast fashion. Something else is developing that looks good and feels good and doesn’t necessary reflect in the price.”

Most of the styles are perfect for women on the go and translate from day to night easily, which is one of the things I love most about it. The upcoming autumn collection is inspired by the 1960s with plenty of sharp tailoring. It includes Pam Am inspired skirt and suit combos, scarf blouses (Celine alert!) and futuristic tunic dresses made from leather and wool and cashmere and tweed. Details come in the form of handmade resin buttons, subtle leather trims and graphic pockets.

Unfortunately the line is not available in Hong Kong yet although Benjamin is scouting various locations. In the meantime you can find boutiques in Singapore and Malaysia. Online it’s available at www.raoul.com and www.matchesfashion.com.

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