À MOI’s Alejandro Alonso was born and raised in Madrid, Spain and eventually landed at Central Saint Martin’s in London and Parsons in Paris. From there, she cut her teeth working at Anna Sui and Nicholas K before launching her own label two years ago with her Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Alonso, who will be showing her new collection for À MOI on February 11th at NYFW, fills us in on what to expect this season, her industry mentors and her very cool collection of antique cookbooks.
What do you think is the best way to have your voice heard as a young designer today?
There needs to be a singular message, with multiple platforms and channels.
How has social media helped you?
The more active, consistent and true to I am to my voice, the more engagement I have.
What have you learned about being a young brand in this industry?
To stay laser-focused and consistently communicate the unique characteristics of À MOI. Plan and commit long-term to staying the course while remaining passionate, positive and realistic.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
International, cosmopolitan, eclectic, refined, creative, sensual, and modern.
Who or what made you interested in fashion?
Fashion has always been my personal diary, a way of expressing and exploring my thoughts and emotions.
How do you remember getting your fashion fix when you were growing up?
Fashion has always been in my blood. The women in my family have always been examples of elegance and European sophistication. They were all quite fascinated with and influenced by French fashion. Over the years, I’ve acquired so many pieces from their wardrobes, so, in a way, their closets have become by personal archive. Favorite pieces include my mother’s custom Balenciaga wedding dress, as well as her collection of gloves and jewelry, in particular a pearl necklace with a ruby closure. I also often refer by back to vintage fashion magazines, especially Vogue, l’Officiel, and Harper’s Bazaar to find inspiration.
What other designers inspired you?
Geoffrey Beene, Pierre Cardin, Sonia Delaunay, Margiela, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons and Sibylla among others.
What did you learn while working at Anna Sui or Nicholas K?
Both studios generously provided me the opportunity to apply my education and skills, grow, make mistakes, and be challenged. The experience at Anna Sui taught me a lot about the important and special relationship that one has to develop with the very talented makers. And the energy and fresh attitude at Nicolas K was very inspiring.
Who were your early supporters in the industry?
I feel very grateful for all the support and the many mentors I’ve had within the fashion industry, including Emily Barnes, Susan Joy, Julie Ragolia, Johanne Siff, Ellen Carey, Ann Caruso, Tomoko Ogura and Angela Mariani. I’m also so thankful for the incredibly talented and experienced people who believed in, and continue to believe in, this project. They are all now a part of the À MOI family.
What has been your best seller?
My hand knits, leather skirts and outerwear.
What do you collect?
I love to collect items that are imbued with the presence and soul of the maker, such as fashion, art, antique jewelry, and, above all, vintage recipe books. One of my favorite places to find old cook books is Joanne Hendricks Cookbooks, which focuses on antiquarian recipe books. The Ballet Cookbook by Tanaquil LeClercq is absolutely wonderful, featuring the stories and recipes of the “who’s who” in the world of ballet. You must try the Great-Great-Grandmother Blackwell’s Eggnog!
What is your favorite book and why?
Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte blessed us with a heroine that exemplifies strength, spirit and integrity. Also, The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann. It’s a modernistic classic and a comedy of manners. The perception of time captivates me.
What new music have you discovered recently or what’s on your playlist?
While not new, I’ve recently started listening to American roots music – Blues, R&B, Soul. I recently went to an incredibly powerful and moving Shemekia Copeland performance in New York. Also, on my recent trip to New Orleans, I had the pleasure of watching Kermit Ruffins perform on Frenchmen St.
What can we expect for Fall 2016?
I was inspired by the Bauhaus and researched all forms of design architecture and art influenced by the movement. The collection communicates a light playful spirit experimenting with geometry’s relationship to the body, with material juxtapositions of hard and soft knits and leathers, felting and fusing. Everything is executed with the precision of an engineer and of the high level of craftsmanship and quality.