The SCAD Fashion Show brought Raul Melgoza, creative director at Luca Luca, to Savannah for the first time. Luca Luca is a high-fashion luxury lifestyle brand known for creating timeless looks for women.
Melgoza was enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge with students. He has spent the past year mentoring the fashion design seniors at SCAD-Atlanta, and District had the opportunity to speak with him shortly before the 2012 SCAD Fashion Show began.
District: What made you want to be a designer?
Raul Melgoza: I’ve had an infatuation with design from a very young age. I was 10 years old and I was watching an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous.” It was basically a lifestyle show where Robin Leach would showcase different architects and designers and I remember seeing an Oscar de la Renta piece and I was just so mesmerized with this idea of, “Oh my God, there is a career where you can create beautiful things, travel the world, be surrounded by beautiful models,” and that’s what I wanted. But it was always just a side thing. I knew that there was this career of a fashion designer that existed but, needless to say, my family was like, “You know you need a real degree.” So it started at a very young age, but really pursuing it was after getting my finance degree from USC [the University of Southern California]. I started to take courses at night at the community college — figure drawing, art history — and when I felt that I was ready I applied to Parsons and was accepted and basically relocated in sight of my new venture.
District: Your designs are very expressive of women and their role in society. What do you think that role is currently?
Melgoza: Women, they are perhaps as powerful, if not more, than men, so I feel like this idea of women just needing clothes to lounge and do nothing is kind of not realistic. Women still want to look like women, but they want clothes that can take you from the office to a cocktail party. It’s really clothing that empowers a woman and that is stylish, but at the same time it’s not so trend-driven so that every month you need a new wardrobe because a magazine suggests that you should be wearing this or that. I try to cater to women who have an innate sense of style and who are looking for clothing that’s stylish, but at the same time timeless.
District: You worked with Vera Wang while you were still a student at Parsons. How crucial are internships to up-and-coming designers?
Melgoza: I think they are very, very crucial. Not necessarily because you are going to be hired by that company once you graduate, but because I think it gives you the exposure and the reality check about what a real designer does. It’s not just the fashion show and the cocktail parties, it’s a lot of work and I think interning allows you to see the long 12 hour days, the unglamorous part. I think that’s sometimes a misconception with people that are not in the industry, that fashion is simply fun, and it is fun, but there’s a lot of other things, too. It’s very demanding, you have to work long hours and travel. It really has to be your priority in order to really succeed.
District: What do you see in the future for Luca Luca?
Melgoza: In the future I am really looking to expand on the accessories. I’ve been with the company for almost eight years and creative director for about three and a half, but we haven’t really pushed the accessories as much, so I’m really looking to branch out and do a full line of accessories because obviously that’s really where the profits come, and it also helps you build more of a lifestyle brand. You get to see the whole picture and not just the clothing.
District: Many students with creative majors such as fashion worry about locking down a career in their field. Since you were so successful at it, what advice can you give to our graduating class about finding a job straight out of college?
Melgoza: My first word of advice is obviously to not give up. You’re going to be rejected many times and it has nothing to do with you not having the skills or the talent, but there simply is a very limited number of positions available for creative fields. The key is never give up. Also, you want to be focused, but at the same time, if there wasn’t a position at a luxury brand, you could still do a bridge line price point, and that’s your way in, so don’t reject these possibilities. Certainly your priority is first to go to the ideal job, but also broaden your options because perhaps it’s through the bridge line that you could then step into the luxury brand, in our case. I’m sure this applies in any creative field.
District: Is there anything you would like to add?
Melgoza: The key to a creative job is be very persistent, be very passionate and there is no such thing as a shortcut. You have got to pay your dues. You have got to try to learn all aspects, it’s not just, in my case, if you love to draw, it’s great that you become an amazing illustrator, but there are more aspects to design than that. So focus on what you love but you still have to learn the full scope of it. I think that’s going to make you a more attractive candidate when you’re looking for a great job.Contact Jaquelin Gasc .