RAPHELITA: From Haute Couture to Ready-to-Wear Style

Lovingly named after designer David Rolle’s great grandmother, the RAPHELITA brand is one that continues to shock with bold designs and fearless, ready-to-wear style. Designing for a primarily Caribbean market, Rolle’s aesthetic is unapologetic, loud, confident, creative, intense and stunning all at once, intended to personify the women who will be wearing his fashions. “I am really inspired by the women around me. My task is to make a woman look good, but what I care about most is how she feels,” Rolle says.

The Bahamian designer and “Mission Catwalk” Season 5 winner’s artistic ability was clear early in his life, as is his dedication to fashion. “I feel like fashion chose me. I’ve always been creative, always artistic,” says Rolle. “I remember selling my car to do a show! You have to immerse yourself in anything that you want to be successful at.” 

With a preferred palette of daring cuts and colors and an infatuation with island-inspired couture, the RAPHELITA brand seamlessly blends ready-to-wear style fashion with runway-worthy design.

Green Goddess

Rolle composed this off-the-runway, ready-to-wear style set with the intention of creating a design that completely inspires confidence in the wearer. Layered in brocade fabric, this green blouse and these luxurious floral-printed pants are cinched at the waist with one of Rolle’s grandmother’s vintage belts. From the bold colored fabrics to the dramatic folds, the style is eye-catching. “You have to be kind of fearless. Everybody won’t always like it, but as long as it feels right to you, that’s what matters most,” says Rolle.


Ebony Onyx

Ready-to-Wear Style - black cape sleeves make this design one of a kind
Photo: CJermaine Photography

Rolle completely revitalized this once drab dress to create a timeless, show-stopping piece inspired by vintage prom dresses. Although a mix of laser-cut Quinlan and neoprene fabrics create an alluring bodice, the dress did not seem quite finished to Rolle when on set. In a last-minute effort, the designer quickly attached more laser-cut Quinlan mesh cape sleeves and the dress completely came to life. 

Pretty in Pink

Ready-to-Wear Style - a pretty lace pink top compliments a tropical skirt
Photo: CJermaine Photography

As part of a collection Rolle designed for a Guyanese fashion showcase, this Caribbean design features a delicate floral lace long-sleeve blouse with an off-the-shoulder neckline and a hand-pinned brocade floral skirt. “All of those little falls [were] done by hand. It started off as a completely full skirt and I wanted it to look a little a little sexier. So we did pin tucks to expose the legs,” says Rolle. 

Serpentine

Created with simply an idea in mind and fabric in hand, this gold, snake print and sequin dress was designed to push the envelope. “You get so much skin in the most tasteful way,” says Rolle, “I love the animal print. I love the sequins. I love the fluidity of the dress. If you’re that girl, you can show up to brunch in this dress.” The chic, asymmetrical design of the one shoulder and high slit just came to the designer as he was draping fabrics over a mannequin.

Golden Glamour

Ready-to-Wear Style - Printed medallions and shorts utilizing the same fabric as the above dress suit the "After 7" theme
Photo: Shawn Hanna

Styled entirely on site, this gold mesh blouse is fitted with laser-cut medallions and paired with gold snake print shorts, a thick satin belt and busy fringe boots. And like all of Rolle’s pieces, though glamourous and red carpet inducing, this set is also designed with ready-to-wear style in mind. “I just happened to take a bunch of things that I like on set and then we made it up,” says Rolle of this spur-of-the-moment masterpiece. The outfit is a favorite for Rolle who says, “It speaks to the type of women I dress. I feel like this girl walks into the party and you know that she’s from the Caribbean. She has all the flavor, all the spice.”

Wanna Shag?

Ready-to-Wear Style - A shift dress with shredded georgette crêpe fabric
Photo: Shawn Hanna

This anything-but-basic mini features a malleable shift dress design and wide sleeves, all covered in shredded black crêpe georgette fabric. “Because the fabric was so extremely busy I [kept] the design very simple. So it’s just a shift dress with full sleeves, but you have tons of impact.”

To stay up to date with David Rolle and all things RAPHELITA, follow @raphelita_ on Instagram!


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