Instead of looking forward, Raul Lopez dug into his past. He presented ideas from his previous collections, which he feels are more relevant now than ever given the political climate.

“I’ve been in a dark place and I wanted to reference myself for this collection because it just felt like the right thing to do,” he said.

Who is Lopez? He’s a Dominican designer who was raised in New York and cofounded Hood by Air with Shayne Oliver. He spent his youth indulging in house music and hanging out in the ballroom scene, a creative safe space for LGBTQ people of color.

All of those facets came through in his collection, which was full of reconfigured takes on garments that are near and dear to his heart. He reimagined JNCO jeans with heavy cuffs and zippers, added leather jackets to culottes, and spliced the back of blazers with cutouts. Multiple garments were merged to create one piece, which was executed nicely.

Little details from his roots also came through. A model walked the runway wearing industrial stilts, which Lopez said reminded him of New York scaffolding. Clothes were stamped with Feminine Destruction, the name of a transgender ballroom dancer — but also, Lopez said, an apropos message for today. The leather tags he attached to a couple of looks referred to him and his friends removing tags from clothing in order to steal them. “I wanted to make popping tags a positive thing,” said Lopez.

As the fashion world continues to focus on what people in urban communities wear, it’s refreshing to see a designer who authentically understands these clothes and imbues them with his own, new ideas.

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