One of our fave avant-cobblers, Raphael Young, was in town from Paris last week to take in a little inspiration New Yorkaise. Over brunch, we caught up with the Seoul-born, onetime Yves Saint Laurent shoemaker (whose uncle, Alexandre Narcy, was the celebrated four-decade-long shoe designer for Monsieur) to discuss his own sublime fall collection.
Raphael’s footwear—bold, quasi-futuristic and painfully beautiful—has always channeled equal parts high-fashion and architectural rigor. But this time around, he says the collection is more “couture” and less rock-and-roll, with its visual elements playing second fiddle to craftsmanship. “Most designers draw and then construct the shoe,” he explains. “I sketch, build the shoe, and then take it apart again to create something new. Shoes are alive, nourished through material research and technological innovation.”
When he isn’t obsessing over deconstruction or reading the 19th-century poetry of Verlaine, Raphael has his hands full with any number of other projects. Following the creation of a custom Aston Martin for a French racing team (bespoke car shoe to follow), Raphael collaborated with Le Tanneur on a three-piece collection of robo-sexy bags for spring. Meanwhile, for the last six years, he’s been working on a book. “It’s about my life,” he told us, “and fashion, and philosophy.” Bien sûr.
Raphael Young is available in New York at Seven, in Los Angeles at Fred Segal Feet, in Paris at L’Eclaireur, in Antwerp at RA.