Ask Raphael Young what he thinks of New York and he'll tell you he loves it, unequivocally. The Paris-based shoe designer will then expound on the differences between Americans and the French, essentially confirming one of the Gallic cultural tenets he sets forth mid-conversation. "You are open-minded and fast, the contrary of France," he explains, pausing to reflect for a moment. "In Paris we think about details...concepts. Americans think in a global way, realistically. But I like contradictions and antagonisms." Hence, three seasons into the launch of his eponymous collection, Young's penchant for sketching and building a shoe only to take it apart again, a stop-and-start-again process he dubbs "deconstruction." Lifting up a vertiginous leather bootie, Young runs a finger over the horizontally-placed leather panel now affixed to its underside. "Look," he says. "This was the shoe's sole. This is different."
Despite a marked deviation from the streamlined norm, “quirky” wouldn’t be the first word that comes to mind when describing Young’s footwear. The plexiglass and carbon heels, mirrored bottoms and sensuous curves suggest a sort of futuristic femininity. And understanding women—beyond how high of a heel they’ll wear, and in so far as a designer can really do so—was one of Young’s aims in visiting New York last month. In between the requisite press meetings and showroom appointments, he again sought out contradiction—a uniformity in difference, as it were, “dependent on time and place,” he explains.
Granted, female allure has been a recurrent theme in his 36 years, propelled in part by the work of his uncle, Alexandre Narcy, who cobbled under YSL for over three decades. “I remember when I was kid, when I was looking at the lookbook of my uncle,” Young recalls. “I was so impressed by the attitude of these elegant women, so intriguing and powerful, so sensual and perfect.” That love of beauty ultimately compelled Young to forgo mathematics (his parents’ preference) for a marketing degree from the Ecole Supérieure des Affaires, but not before a brief stint as a would-be naval pilot and physics studies. The latter would come in handy when Young formally commenced design school. An internship under his uncle followed, with a freelance design gig and assistantship under Jean-Louis Scherrer and Rossimoda SpA, respectively, soon thereafter.
I am totally enamored of Raphael Young and his creative artistry! That chain wedge is a certain testament to his vision and sight to behold, as it is a statement unto itself! That, however is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as his website features more jaw-dropping beauties!(check them out on raphaelyoung.com). If it's the fabulous, funky and fierce that you seek, then this is the "go to guy." The article refers to his creations as "quirky;" that's not what I see, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
I would say more avant garde and possibly edgy, but certainly in a good way! I personally see him on the level of Christian Louboutin, by with a "funky twist." It's also my opinion that designers such as Rapahel don't necessarily "pander" to the masses; the create what feels right to them and either you like it or you don't. What I know for sure, that he has a new fan in me!