Women shine like a true diva in tuxedos. Don’t they? Of course they do. More so because they look like beautiful angels walking down the street in their men’s suits! Plus, there is no denying that they mean real business wearing their bossy tuxedos on any given day. After all, the innovative style they bring to it has forced fashion pundits from across the globe to admire how brilliantly they can add their own spark to it and in so doing outshine their male counterparts.
Its robust popularity among celebrities or women in general is proof that it can sometimes easily replace the usual gowns that they are more often than not expected to wear to big event galas. In a way, it’s a good second-to-none option as the Beirut-born, Paris-raised and London-based tuxedo designer Racil Chalhoub continues to tell loud and clear through her blissful designs. In fact, her tryst with designing tuxedo began when she couldn’t find one that fitted her well and reflected her sense of style.
Chalhoub fell in love with fashion at a very young age. Growing up in a city like Paris with a very elegant mother did influence her tremendously as to what she would become later in her life. “My mother used to take me to boutiques and fashion shows and that is when I became highly mesmerized by the fashion world and dreamt to have my own fashion brand one day,” she says.
With this aspiration on her mind, she came to London where she studied Fashion and Marketing. Right after this, she went on to launch her own cool tuxedo brand because she knew it’s something that is timeless and ever so chic and more importantly she had knowhow of how a business is run. “It might be stolen from a man’s wardrobe but it gives a woman so much power and elegance as well as understated sexiness,” she says. “In a tuxedo you are neither exposed as overdressed nor underdressed; you can wear it from day to night and vice versa. I love how easy it is to wear yet will never fail to turn heads.”
Just within a year since the launch of her label, it struck a chord with its customers who were really hunting for a tuxedo that had a lively vibe to it as Chalhoub explains, “I think the reason my brand is by and large sought-after today is because it’s so focused. More and more women want to wear a tuxedo and now they sort of know where to look for it. The Racil Tuxedo has a cool flair to it, it’s sharp but not stiff – it’s versatile and playful, it fits today’s lifestyle. I wear mine in the day and evening alike.”
Since Chalhoub designs the right fit tuxedo dresses for every type of woman out there (which she knows is not easy as everybody is different), it’s very important for her to draw a woman’s figure in her head first. “I design with real women in mind. I want to create pieces that women can wear easily and so I always tend to visualize them, how different they would wear their tuxedo and where to,” she says.
Her grand tuxedos are for every woman who thinks of becoming a Racil woman. So the individual experimentation with it is endless as it can be a 20 year old’s first ever tuxedo, a working woman who packs it on all her work trips or a stylish girl who will style it differently every day. “That woman could even be my own mother who will wear it in the most elegant style the old fashioned way,” she says.
Inspirations behind what she does
While her inspirations can crop up from anywhere like a trip abroad or someone in the street or even the colors in a bouquet of flowers, she mostly looks at men’s vintage clothing with more enthusiasm and openness. “I love the freedom found in the clothing of the 1920s and 1970s. Bianca Jagger in her studio 54 days is always at the heart of my mood boards,” Chalhoub reveals.
Her mother has always been a main attraction because she taught her the basis of fashion and is by far the most elegant woman she knows today. Apart from her, there are lots of other women she looks up to solely for never letting their own style vanish and always believe in following what they love and suit them more than just what’s trendy. “One of my big time idols is Iris Apfel—I love how original and individual she looks. That freedom of wearing whatever you like is something I have a lot of respect for,” Chalhoub says.
There is definitely a cozy feel to her creations as they are made using men’s tailoring wool mostly as well as satin for the lapels and refined details. When it comes to color and how pivotal role it plays in her collections, let’s just say she breathes it all the time. “I love and live in color and so it was vital for me to have great colors and color combinations in my collection. My use of color is a way of breaking the rules for tuxedos. People obviously assume a tuxedo has to be black or midnight blue or white, but why it has to be this way only,” she asks. “I think it can be made in as many colors as you want.”
With success steadily knocking at her door, Chalhoub wants her tuxedos to be worn by high profile celebs like Beyoncé and Rihanna. “I would also love to dress Meryl Streep and Bianca Jagger of course,” she says.
While she acknowledges the potential of celebrity endorsement when it comes to strengthening one’s brand power, she favors more of bumping into someone she doesn’t know wearing one of her pieces or a friend of hers who ordered a special piece to wear on the day of her wedding! “That kind of support is much more important to me, as it’s more genuine and real- which is what we are all about at the end of the day,” she says. “I find it really rewarding.”
Chalhoub’s SS17 collection sort of tells a story through capsule lines inspired by incredible rock legends such as Prince, Bowie and Mick Jagger; their lives on and off stage, their wives and their fluid sense of dressing.
“The collection is therefore quite bold in terms of colors and also offers more dresses and tops than ever before. It is cheeky and playful whilst keeping its good tailoring and elegance. I think it’s my favorite one so far,” she says.
As the Racil Chalhoub brand takes its course in terms of making waves, there are already a few surprises up her sleeve that will unfold in the coming months.
In fact, all her creations are an embodiment of three cities (Paris, London and New York) she keeps traveling to quite often and she calls herself lucky that she is able to do so. “I get a different kick from each place and I love that. I love how elegant Paris is, how eclectic and homey London is to me and the madness and rush of New York,” she says.
It comes as no surprise that her style is quite eclectic as she puts it, “I would say it is modern bohemian-boyish yet very feminine at the same time.”