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Raquel Allegra on Skipping Fashion Week and Her Love For Costa Rica

The designer chats with DuJour on the heels of her store’s first anniversary

In the fashion world, it seems like there’s always something to celebrate. In a constantly evolving industry, each new collection or disrupting collaboration is a cause for revelry. And for artist and designer Raquel Allegra in particular, this month marks a milestone well worth acknowledging. 

Last June, the colorful designer opened her Los Angeles flagship store with her Fall/Winter 2017 collection, deciding (like Tommy Hilfiger and Rachel Zoe) to forgo NYFW for a more authentic environment—the store is also the space where she regularly creates her work. The store is outfitted in Allegra-esque notes of natural tones and breezy fabrics, and the clothing lends itself to the space just as much as the décor does. Now, on the first anniversary of the store’s opening, Allegra is gearing up for her forthcoming Spring 2018 collection.

Below, Allegra tells DuJour about the colorful series of events that ultimately inspired this new collection: her past life in Costa Rica, opting out of NYFW and more.

Raquel Allegra’s Flagship, Los Angeles

In terms of your first store, what does having this space mean to you?

I’m constantly testing things with my hands and now I have a place that I can actually put those things now. I have a dye room in my studio; it’s like my happy place.

What was the thought process behind showing your FW17 collection there, versus in New York?

I think after everything in Costa Rica—including shooting the film, which was very personal for me—the feeling that I wanted to share; I felt that I could share it best in my own environment. So I created a little tropical rainforest in my store. It’s a feeling of “light” and “joy,” it makes me want to dance. When I’m in Costa Rica I feel it through my feet, I feel connected to the Earth, and I wanted to bring people that feeling. We could’ve done New York, but it wouldn’t feel authentic.

Raquel Allegra, PF17

You’re currently in Costa Rica now! When did you first fall in love with this destination?

It wasn’t until the very end of us creating this collection that I went to Costa Rica and had this total, personal awakening. I came back and said to my team: “We’re going to Costa Rica to shoot a fashion film.” So that’s what we did. So I brought my team back in January and we shot it, and in three to four sections in it I’m working with horses. This one horse in particular, Rambo, was just incredibly gentle. I’ve really never travelled so much, but I just want to keep coming back. I think this was my fifth time visiting since December, before this I was never really been one to travel. 

In terms of training with horses and yoga—where do those two things intersect with your creative process? 

When I came to Costa Rica it was to ride horses and do yoga with a really small group of women who ride also, and who do training that’s focused on your relationship with the horse, rather than traditional training that’s more about domination. And like in yoga, when you can connect with your breath and while you’re on the back of a horse—especially if there’s no saddle between you—you can actually use it to find the position with your body, to connect more deeply with the horse. When I started working with horses I was going through a really hard time in my life, just personally I felt like I had shut down quite a bit. I was in a relationship that wasn’t very good for me, and I think that working with horses literally saved my life.

When you look back at your journey towards creating this brand—you started in retail at Barney’s—what comes to mind as the biggest challenge of being a designer? 

Spending most of my time not designing! I hired a designer last year who has been incredibly instrumental in keeping the calendar and fleshing out concepts that I come up with. And I’ve been spending more time building relationships outside of designing, spending time with my staff and traveling so I can stay inspired. But the last couple of months I’ve been doing more design than I had been previously.