From sewing her first cushion at age 12 to featuring in British Vogue magazine in 2018, fashion graduate Antoinette Raphael is bringing bold attitude to the industry with her streetwear label, RAW WAR.
“RAW WAR plays with the concept of androgynous and quirky fashion through the use of oversized silhouettes, bold and graphic prints, saturated colour palettes, and subverted manipulation of fabrics and construction,” says Raphael in her Designer Profile in the spring/summer edition of British Vogue.
Raphael was contacted by Vogue after one of the company’s sales executives came across her RAW WAR Instagram account, and set about contacting Raphael to feature her work in the magazine’s emerging designer section.
A loyal reader of Vogue since a young age, Raphael says it was both an honour and a surprise to be recognised by the fashion heavyweight.
“I’ve always known about the magazine and how prestigious it is in the industry. Being included in the latest issue is an incredible achievement and still shocks me,” she says.
“Working with Vogue has made me feel as though my hard work is beginning to pay off.”
Since Raphael graduated with a fashion degree from Curtin in 2017, she has been developing her debut collection, THE POWER OF VIBEZ, and a mini collection called 50/50, which comprises a range of striking, oversized jackets, shorts and pants.
50/50 featured in this year’s Face Fashion showcase in Melbourne and was chosen to close the night. The young designer says attending Face Fashion, seeing all the elements that go into a runway show and the people who put it together, made it an unforgettable and informative experience.
“Just hearing my music blasting in that large town hall provided me with so much fulfillment and excitement, as did showing my creations to a new public audience and being among the prestigious fashion individuals of Melbourne,” she says.
“It showed the public who I am as a designer and who stands behind the brand. It’s an experience in my career I will never forget!”
Raphael draws inspiration for her assertive designs predominately from music, especially Kanye West, pop and post-modern art, traditional and modern culture, and also from her frustrations towards contemporary ideals.
“Our world at the moment is controlled by the idea of perfection, and people wanting to be just like everybody else in order to be accepted. Real and raw emotion and appearance is lost in society because people are not staying true to who they really are.”
“I channel these issues in my designs through literal prints and strong, powerful and aggressive products and colours such as leather, red, straps and buckles, and screen print or embroidery typography.”
Raphael credits Curtin’s fashion design course with fostering her vision as a designer, enhancing her technical design skills and developing her ability to communicate with industry.
“I learned the thorough processes of design development, ideation, professional pattern-making and communication. These skills have allowed me to get into the zone of designing for a particular audience, event or topic, in addition to preparing a design correctly for production.
“The skill of professional communication has taught me how to communicate with clients and businesses.”
Besting Vogue as a client may be a challenge, but Raphael says the exposure has set her up well to bring RAW WAR to an international audience.
Her advice to aspiring fashion designers is to do anything – and wear anything – with confidence.
“If you have a strong passion for fashion, creating, and the industry itself, definitely give it a go! Work your hardest, believe in yourself and you will succeed.”