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Reconstructing Fashion

Raquel's deconstructed fabric

Raquel Allegra has been making new outfits out of old clothes, ever since she was a little girl in Berkeley, California.

"I didn't get to go clothes shopping very often," she told me, "So I started just taking my clothes apart and putting them back together again in ways that I preferred... If I couldn't afford to get something new, I could make something new."

That talent has served her well. Over the years, she kept making her own clothes and wearing them. She eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue a singing career. Allegra took a job at Barney's New York, the luxury department store, to pay the rent.

Raquel Allegra
Alex Cohen, NPR

"People would stop me," she explained, "and say 'I want THAT, I want what you're wearing!'" So, she decided to have a trunk show at her house. Allegra soon developed a loyal fan base, including celebrities Mary Kate Olson and Kate Moss.

Her most popular items are tops and dresses made out of old t-shirts that were once worn by inmates at southern California's jails. She hand dyes them and puts them through a brutal process she calls deconstruction. The result are beautiful pieces with sections that are finely webbed like a delicate gauze.

Raquel Allegra's designs are incredibly fragile - they can get caught on things, the holes can grow bigger. "but I appreciate that about the pieces," she says "it's life's texture in a way, coming in to shift the piece and make it your own."

Allegra will be showing off her new fall line at the L.A. Fashion Week.

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