I was in California just a few weeks ago, and I had the great pleasure of meeting designer Roberto Racanelli, the talented French Canadian designer based in California, the one behind House of Racanelli. His exquisite creations find home in fancy Beverley Hills mansions, whether it is for a private dinner, a special occasion or a fabulous event.
I was instantly charmed by Roberto’s work, but also, by his personality. Not only is he a fantastical designer, but also, a great human being; kind, sweet, generous and funny! I knew right away I wanted to share his work here on the blog, so I sent him a few questions about his work.
Here is my conversation with Hollywood designer Roberto Racanelli, one that shows again that dreams indeed can come true!
When did you launch House of Racanelli?
House of Racanelli was created upon my arrival in California November 2021.
How did it all start?
Fashion has been in my family forever. My family is from Italy; they were in the fabric business when coming to Montreal and my grandmothers were seamstresses, from whom I learned from at a very young age, as I was playing with fabrics. As a kid, I was always very fascinated by my aunt, Juliette Trolio and her unique and eccentric style.
How long have you wanted to be a designer?
I have been drawing women wearing extravagant dresses since I was four years old. I was making dresses for my Barbie Dolls by making knots and bows, as well as for my real-life Barbie and muse, my sister Elysia Racanelli.
I got my first sewing machine at the age of 10 and I have been sewing ever since. I guess the answer that that was that it was in my blood.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My aunt Juliette has a very famous store in Montreal called RIX RAX, where all the designers go to for trimmings, buttons, feathers, silk flower and all sewing accessories as well as hat making supplies. I grew up in that magical treasure box, filled with beautiful things and constantly looking though all the European Couture fashion magazines she had on the table.
As I went to Lasalle College in Montreal for Fashion Design and Interior Design, I worked at Rix Rax for many years which gave me such inspiration and influence on European fashion and design.
I always loved the gorgeous and glamourous Old Hollywood movies with all the picture-perfect actresses like Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Jayne Mansfield, and many more like these beauty icons. Their ultra-feminine and elegant styles and dresses illustrated a dream fantasy of Hollywood in my head since I’ve been very young.
From the moment I first came to Los Angeles I fell in love, and I felt at home. What fascinates me the most about her is in fashion, beauty, make up, cosmetics, the movies and all the incredible artists in that industry that are constantly creating and pushing the boundaries of the art or transformation to achieve a look, whether it is the for a beautiful, perfect hair, makeup and couture dress look for a red carpet or a creature in a horror movie that is truly mind blowing for me.
The ability to turn and idea or a dream into reality.
Do you have a muse?
My sister, Elysia Racanelli, is my muse. She has been my real-life Barbie Doll since we were kids. I was playing dress up and making dresses for her with knots and bow and she would stand there patiently in front of the mirror as I would drape the dress on her. To this day we still do the same thing but now they are sewn using couture techniques.
She is a very intelligent, talented, and beautiful woman. She is a doctor, a singer, a model, and my perfect muse. She has porcelain white skin and long Platinum blond hair, in a way she is like a beautiful white canvas, as an artist it is fun to transform and play with colours, prints and styles from the fabrics to the hair and makeup to create so many different looks.
Who are your dresses for?
My dresses are custom made to the client and they are for all the women. I love to make women feel gorgeous and glamourous and to empower woman. The moment I love the most of couture, is seeing a woman looking at herself in the mirror wearing a creation I made and suddenly has that look on her face, like the glistening stare of little girl feeling like a princess, glowing with beauty and happiness. It’s a very special moment.
Do you get attached to the dresses you make? Is it hard to let them go?!
Indeed, I do get attached to the dresses I make. The way I create my designs is very old school artistry I usually create quite complex couture pieces with a lot of hand sewing. Therefore, each piece is made with love and passion, I am an artist sculpting with fabric. From the moment I have the idea, then I make a drawing, the treasure hunt to find the perfect fabric and materials, creating the first ‘’toile’’ in white cotton muslin, the fittings and all the steps and couture techniques to construct the actual completed garment so much time has been put on every dress.
The secret to a perfect dress
A couture dress is like bloodless surgery. The ones who know, know… Once you get the breast looking amazing, the waist looking snatched, and that ultra-feminine desired hourglass shape that looks picture perfect in every pose, that is the key… the rest is decoration. Therefore, the secret in these dresses is the inside structure, the bones of the dress, that shapes the body and the dress. It removes tension especially to delicate fabrics and just makes the fit and fabric as smooth and beautiful as one desires.
Do you have a favorite piece in all the dresses you made?
I love all the dresses I’ve created, and I always feel like each dress brings me to another level, however my favorite piece is always my newest one… It’s like a new lover every time.
And there you have it – I find the story of his becoming a designer as fascinating & magical as his dresses are.
HOUSE OF RACANELLI