Copyright © Raoul Blanco
Upon finishing high school Raoul enrolled in Elia Rocha’s school to learn pattern-making, draping and sewing. Under her guidance he graduated as a professor of pattern-making, focused on a step once skipped by his great grandmother. He also began to build a following of private customers.
Raoul was introduced to Carlota Alfaro, the designer who taught Raoul the principle techniques of haute couture. Then came Raoul’s first major success. His design, worn by Rose Perez, was entered into Elizabeth Arden’s “Cup of Elegance” competition. Their entry won. Raoul was invigorated for greater challenges, so he moved to New York in the early 1980s.
In New York City he started working as a freelancer for designers Julio Espada, Stephen Sprouse and Adrienne Landau. Jean Rosenberg, vice president and buyer for Henri Bendel who recognized Raoul’s excellence, became Raoul’s first major sale and later sold his designs to stores such as Lillie Rubin, Peggy Peters, Betty Bass, among others. Raoul worked alongside many prominet designers in NYC, most notable among them...Liz Claiborne.
After nearly a decade of commercial success, Blanco returned to the tradition of his grandmother. In the mid 1990s he established a studio in Napa, California, to make individual garment with patterns determined by the women who wore them. “My preference is working directly with the ladies who wear my gowns,” he noted.
Blanco moved to New Orleans in 2002, first opening on St. Charles Avenue. In 2004 he was commissioned to make the suit and gown for the inaugural celebrations of Louisiana’s first woman governor, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (of no relation). After the storm of 2005, Raoul relocated his studio to the expanding North Shore, while still serving clients worldwide.