Ten Minutes With Rasario Founder Rasida Lakoba

5 min read

Rasida Lakoba, founder of ready-to-wear line Rasario, tells all about her hometown inspirations and the importance of femininity in her Hollywood-ready designs.

In just eleven years since the birth of her eveningwear brand, Rasida Lakoba has established Rasario as a force to be reckoned with across the world. As seen on Hollywood celebrities such as Catherine Zeta-Jones and Paris Jackson, Rasario’s designs are bold but exude a feminine and refined appeal. Her journey from her beginnings in Abkhazia, where Eastern Europe and Western Asia meet at the Black Sea, has been instrumental in shaping her designs, as well as her brand ethos. Here, Lakoba talks about her new Autumn/Winter 23 collection, her aspirations for the Middle East and her heritage, which lies at the heart of everything she creates.

What was the inspiration behind establishing your ready-to-wear brand in 2012?

Growing up in my hometown, my heritage played a crucial role in shaping my creative vision. It fuelled a strong desire to translate influences around me into something that would resonate with women worldwide. So when the time came to choose what I wanted to do, diving into the fashion world just felt like the most natural thing to do.

What sort of Abkhazian elements can we expect to see in your latest collection?

My childhood in Abkhazia greatly influenced my design aesthetic. Memories of the sea, sun and vibrant colours from that time often inspire my collections. In my latest collection, you can expect to see these Abkhazian elements subtly incorporated, such as the blues of the sea and hints of traditional motifs reimagined in a modern context.

Growing up, which designers influenced you?

Surprisingly, I didn’t have a favourite designer while growing up. However, I’ve delved into the history of fashion, studying biographies of renowned designers like Gabrielle Chanel, Balenciaga and Schiaparelli.When I travel, I try to visit their House museums and fashion history exhibitions. I’m intrigued by how these brands evolved and the factors that shaped their identity.

What is the design process at Rasario?

It starts with me, on the hunt for inspiration. I often ask myself, ‘will this piece empower and uplift the wearer?’ If the answer is a resounding yes, then it’s a definite inclusion! When we’re designing something special, like a wedding dress, it gets personal. I become a bit of a confidante and even a psychologist sometimes. This whole process can take months, from the initial idea to fittings and production. Butit’s such an honour and responsibility to create something that’s part of a woman’s big day.

What were the major influences at play in the making of the latest AW23/24 collection?

This collection takes its cues from the glamour of old Hollywood and classic evening fashion. We’ve got standout pieces from straight maxi dresses to open-back stunners. We’re using top-notch materials like shape-resistant satin, silk plastic velvet and sequinned mesh with dazzling beadwork, and soft crepe-satin for a more luxurious feel. Feathers are a big deal in this collection, adding contrast and drama to the designs. You’ll also notice snazzy contrasting collars, varying sizes of bows, corset inserts, eye-catching necklines and voluminous puffed sleeves. Our core pieces are dresses with adjacent silhouettes, godet skirts, and our signature Rasario column and balloon skirts. It’s all about timeless charm, classic elegance and a touch of femininity— a minimalist yet dramatic look that puts you in the spotlight.

How does the brand ensure sustainability and ethical practices?

At Rasario, we’re committed to doing right by our planet and our people. It’s not just some trendy buzzword; it’s a fundamental part of who we are. We’re always on the lookout for eco-friendly materials and manufacturing methods to reduce our environmental impact. We take extra care to make sure our garments are crafted responsibly, respecting both the Earth and the talented artisans who bring our designs to life.

What are some of the challenges the brand has faced and overcome?

The pandemic posed significant challenges for our brand, especially because our industry, centred around celebrations and events, was hit hard. However, we were fortunate to have long-standing partners like Net-a-Porter and Farfetch who supported us during these trying times. Our primary focus during that period was to ensure the well-being of our team, which we consider our greatest asset and source of support. We learned the importance of resilience and the value of strong partnerships in navigating challenging times.

Could you tell us about the journey that led Rasario to become a Hollywood staple?

Our brand specialises in evening and wedding dresses that redefine the concept of classic evening fashion. We release four collections a year, each unique in its own way, while still reflecting the brand’s DNA. Our designs focus on clean lines and architectural elements, with minimal embellishments. We work closely with our design department, paying meticulous attention to the fit of our corsets and dresses, ensuring that our creations fit impeccably and instil confidence in the wearer.The secret to our success lies in our dedication and passion for our work. We work tirelessly and put in a great deal of effort into every dress we create. Each dress represents a new idea and reflects our commitment to excellence.

What is the profile of the Rasario buyer and how does the brand cater to the Middle Eastern ready-to-wear fashion consumer?

The Rasario woman exudes confidence, embraces her sensuality and seeks the best in fashion. Our dresses are meticulously designed for exceptional moments in life, ensuring every woman has the chance to wear her dream evening dress. Designing for Arab women has been a joy. I aim for designs that speak a global language, resonating with the Middle East’s fearless embrace of maximalist and new fashion trends.In our pre-fall 2023 collection, I curated looks with rich colours and luxurious fabrics that connect deeply with Arab tastes. Additionally, we offer ‘modest edits’ to cater to diverse preferences in this vibrant fashion landscape.

How do you stay innovative and keep up with the ever-evolving global fashion market?

We excel in balancing innovation with our brand’s core essence in the ever-evolving fashion industry. While fashion trends may change, our commitment to delivering high-quality, stunning gowns remains unwavering. Though the fashion landscape is shifting away from ultra-feminine designs, we firmly believe in celebrating the beauty of the feminine figure, exemplified by our signature bustier. Our success lies in staying true to our brand’s values while keeping an eye on market trends. Our clients appreciate our dedication to timeless elegance and femininity, which we consistently deliver.

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  • Interview by Priyanka Pradhan