Conversations: Alessandra Rich On Finding Inspiration In The Unexpected
In just a few years, the designer has chalked up a clientele of street style and Hollywood queens alike and the list gets longer every day. How does she do it?| April 10, 2018
You can’t quite place the Alessandra Rich aesthetic. There is the eighties, but also the forties and the fifties, but not quite either. There is a dressed-up, garden tea party allure, but there is also disco. It is wild and fun, but also polished, rock ‘n’ roll. And yet, with so many elements at play, everything just comes together, like they were meant to be that way. You just know when someone is wearing an Alessandra Rich. The look is just so distinctive.
It is no wonder that in a matter of a few short years, Alessandra Rich has gone from being one of those hush-hush industry secrets to a full-fledged bonafide red carpet powerhouse. The street style pack – from Olivia Culpo to Tiffany Hsu – loves her, Hollywood’s boldest and brightest love her. Here comes the namedropping: Cardi B, Hailey Baldwin, Kourtney Kardashian, January Jones, Daisy Ridley, Nicole Kidman, Alexa Chung, Beyoncé, Saoirse Ronan, Kendall Jenner, Meryl FREAKING Streep (who wore custom, as Meryl does). We could go on for another five minutes more.
Here is just the thing – Rich’s meticulous designs work for the red carpet and off. Case in point: Hailey Baldwin pairing one of Rich’s blazer dresses with high-tops and wearing the look to the airport. To be able to pull that off in a single collection, and for a brand so young, is astounding. How does she do it?
We went straight to the source. Here, Rich talks to us about finding her fashion calling in her forties, the iridescent Alessandra Rich woman, the beautiful things on her radar and the juice on her latest show at Paris Fashion Week, her biggest one to date.
Where were you born and were your growing up years like?
I was born in Italy. I grew up up in the countryside not far from the Venice masterpieces.
Was creativity a big part of it?
Youth more than creativity, I was in my 20s when I moved to London.
You started your brand just a few years ago and it’s been so well received. What was that moment that you decided to become designer like?
It was like discovering a new planet. I was excited and confused. I still feel the same thrill with each new collection, I’m an emotional type.
You started Alessandra Rich after the age of 40, which is amazing because you’re proof that anyone can dream and attain the dream at any age. Would you have changed anything?
Absolutely not. Everything I did brings me here. I’m still living my dream.
Do you think things would have been different in your 20s or 30s?
Probably yes, but I’m not interested in the past, I love my age.
How would you describe the Alessandra Rich aesthetic? I noticed some 1940s and 1980s character in the clothes.
I like to describe my aesthetic as contemporary. It matches different inspirations with the same attitude: you can find a diva allure from ’40s and a soap opera actress appeal from ’80s. In each collection lives different women; they’re always self-confident, clever and beautiful.
Talk to us about the recent collection that you showed in Paris. It was a much larger scale than the last couple of seasons. What were your inspirations?
I was inspired by a mysterious, deceitful and nocturnal woman. She could be an exotic dancer, a spy, a boxer, a femme fatale, a vampire, a mirage. The name and the soul of the collection is “Mirage”. Something that you cannot touch, you can just follow her sparkling in the dark. Most of the looks in the collection are black; she’s a dark lady, an obscure object of desire. There is much sensuality in this collection, from a boudoir chiffon nightgown to animalier pants or mini dresses.
You’ve dressed so many celebrities from Rihanna to Meryl Streep. What was that pinch-me moment?
I love seeing my dresses on red carpets as well I love seeing them on real women. It’s pure joy.
Real women wear your clothing as well. As a designer, what is most important above all else in a design?
The most important thing in a design is the woman you’re designing for.
What is style?
Style is an attitude and it belongs to your personality. It’s the reason why I don’t like an expression like “icon of style”. Style is something you can’t imitate, you must have it.
Tell us a piece of advice you’ve heard that you’ve kept close to your heart until now?
Sorry, I don’t remember…I prefer compliments to advice!
If you could speak to your 25-year-old self, what would you say to her?
What lessons or advice do you have for young women who want to start their own businesses and work towards what you’ve achieved with your brand?
Just have fun with their work, don’t design boring dresses and don’t stop researching. Research is the key to creativity because the ideas, as the love, are in the air.
What are some of the beautiful things that have caught your eye recently?
A wine spot on the tablecloth after a romantic dinner, some buildings in Toronto, a white lace embellished with crystals and beads. I see beauty everywhere.
What are some of your favourite things of the moment?
Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors”. It was a deep experience, like entering in a super coloured dream. At the end of the show, I seemed to see dots on my skin; it was a beautiful illusion.
Tweed contrast collar jacket
Rose print crepe de chine dress
Polka dot crepe de chine halterneck playsuit
Polka dot crepe de chine dress
Faux pearl-embellished hoop drop earrings
Hollywood crystal-embellished dress
Hollywood Sable crystal-embellished dress
What To Read Next: Conversations: Bella Hadid Talks Beauty, Bold Lips & Burgers, If You’re Going To Do The Eighties and This Is How To Do It and Conversations: What Does A Fashion Buyer Really Do? | Cover Collage: YOYOKULALA.com, with images via Alessandra Rich/Instagram