Inside Raquel Allegra's 'Pura Vida' Inspired Collection
In every culture and language, there are some phrases that fail to translate with the same power or poignancy that they carry in their native tongue. The Costa Rican expression "pura vida" literally means "pure life" in English, but for the people of that country, it's so much wider reaching. For them, it is a way of life. A salutation, an exclamation, and an expression of someone's general being among other uses, pura vida represents eternal positivity and living life with ease and enjoyment. For Los Angeles designer Raquel Allegra, the sentiment applied perfectly to her Fall 2017 collection, designed during a deeply transformative time. A visit to Costa Rica to work with horses was a full-circle moment since starting the process of creating a collection charged with concepts of empowerment and healing a broken heart.
Loved by celebrities (including Selena Gomez, Chrissy Teigen, and Nicole Richie, to name a few) and fashion girls alike, Allegra's clothing is characterized by its relaxed, easy-to-wear silhouettes which are frequently punctuated with modern-bohemian details like tie-dye, fringe, and distress. Her latest collection doesn't stray too far from that formula, but it also shows a more evolved version of the designer's aesthetic. Recently Allegra opted to bypass New York Fashion Week in favor of a presentation at her Los Angeles brick-and-mortar, where she threw a soiree for the city's fashion elite, press, and the men and women who helped the new collection come to life. With tropical blooms and plants, prayer candles, and fruity, tequila-spiked concoctions, the affair was loosely Costa Rica inspired—but 100% influenced by the pura vida theme that also runs through the collection. We got the chance to speak to Allegra to not only find out more about the story behind her latest crop of edgy-cool, casual clothing, but also what she loves about living in LA, and which other local designers she can't get enough of.
Tell us a bit about how the Fall collection was conceptualized.
The collection came first, for the most part. A 1970s erotic anime film, Belladonna of Sadness, was the starting inspiration. The collection explores many of the film’s core themes: sexual power, feminine identity, overcoming trauma and exploring of the self. These themes resonated with a period of my own personal transformation and empowerment while designing this collection. This personal transformation culminated in many ways with a trip to Costa Rica in December to work with horses. The Costa Rican theme of “Pura Vida” echoed all that we’d been dealing with in the collection, and it became an integral element in the story. Our second trip to Costa Rica in January to shoot the lookbook really brought everything full circle. There is something so magical about the pure and simple way of life there that really invites one's truest self to show up.
If the collection had a soundtrack, what songs might we find on it?
Top reggae and dance hall hits, "Smoke Disque" by Serge Gainsburg, Scientist Rids The World of the Evil Curse of The Vampires by Scientist, Dub Side of the Moon by Easy Star All-Stars, Beenie Man…
Why was it important to have a presentation in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is home, and we were thrilled to have a presentation where we could include our LA family who don’t usually make it to NYC. Some of our sample sewers were tearing up the dance floor with editors!
In what ways does living in LA inspire your collections?
We are a true California brand through-and-through. This collection completely embraced the concept of “melting pot". Our inspirations drew from Japan and Costa Rica, and our presentation brought in even more element—we made a conscious decision to not create a culturally accurate tropical Costa Rican vibe. The event was an international hodge-podge with incense, Mexican candles and tequila (from local LA distillery Greenbar who also supplied rum distilled 10 minutes from our office), Thai coconut water, boxed Canadian water, and music from all over the place. Despite this, everything about the presentation and collection still feels “LA”. Perhaps this is due to the true international nature of this city, which dives right down to diversity of our own employees. The chic yet easy elements of our collection are a real reflection of LA's vibe.
Which pieces by local designers would you love to accessorize the collection with?
Annie Costello Brown’s jewelry and NewbarK shoes are definitely made-in-LA favorites! While not all of their products are made in LA, local boutique Mona Moore is definitely a frequent collaborator and drain on my personal bank account.
Photos by Margo Ducharme
Allegra's clothing is available in her online shop, as well as local stockists including Mohawk General Store, American Rag Cie, and Traffic.