Raphael Young was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in his French adoptive family's home town of Romans, the birthplace of French luxury shoe making.
Following in the footsteps of his uncle, the renowned Alexandre Narcy (a legendary bottier who created the Yves Saint Laurent Shoe Studio in the 60’s) Raphael created his very first pair of shoes at age 14.
“I would sit for hours and just watch my uncle carve a last or a heel out of a block of wood, I had the best kind of apprenticeship with him. He taught me the traditional way, like a true artisan.”
Today, Raphael creates each prototype from stitch to finish- a rigorous method that few of his peers still employ. More than just a savvy designer, Raphael is a shoe maker and cobbler in the old school mold, an artisan who carves every last and heel and develops each and every aspect of the shoe design himself.
Thanks to his earlier education in the engineering, Raphael bridges the gap between the sciences and shoe design:
“I can understand the importance of physics and mechanics, as well as art and sculpture. We all work with the same fundamental materials and when you break it down it is all about balance, volume, density and lines of force.”
Inspired as much by Plato as he is by Le Corbusier or Mies van der Rohe, Raphael draws inspiration from architecture, history and industrial design. When fashioning his wares, he looks not attrends or even the future, necessarily, infusing his 21st century collections with traditional techniques.
After lending his creative design skills to some of the best Parisian and Italian couture studios as well as creating shoes for Manish Arora, Elie Saab, Louise Goldin and Hannah Marshall, Raphael finally launched his eponymous label in 2008.
His designs were quickly propelled into buzzworthy territory thanks to the superior quality and craftsmanship of his shoe designs, coupled with his inimitable style. The response of the international press was immediate, and Raphael soon became one of the most soughtafter emerging design talents around. Celebrities such as Beyonce, Lady gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry, Monica Bellucci and Rihanna to name a few have also worn Raphael Young designs from Vogue Covers to Red Carpet events.
In 2011 Raphael made a move to NYC to head the shoe design team at Calvin Klein Collection. His designs garnered fantastic reception from the fashion press.
Raphael remains keenly focused on his key source of inspiration: the women who wear his shoes every day.
“Every shoe corresponds to a woman at a given moment, for a particular occasion or situation, to believe that shoes were made out of pure necessity is an understatement; shoes are made to be the centerpiece, and in my case they are designed for that very reason. My goal is always to add depth to women, never to diminish them.”