Jun 30, 2009


Alexandra Cipparone of ALEX&RA is a West Coast girl through and through. She grew up in San Diego, went to school in Berkeley, and now lives in San Francisco, and her designs reflect that laid-back California girl style. Alexandra designs skirts and dresses inspired by the California neighborhoods she has lived in. She explains that "Each neighborhood has a story to tell and by creating collections for each of them, I hope to communicate that remarkable diversity to the world."

The first collection Alexandra designed for ALEX&RA was the Broadway collection, inspired by her neighborhood in Pacific Heights, specifically Broadway Avenue. "The mix of architecture on this street is incredibly fascinating to me because these blocks represent such a rich history of San Francisco. The style here is ornate, but refined, a little bit intimidating, but welcoming as well. I tried to mimic these dichotomies in this collection, first and foremost with my choice of materials." ALEX&RA's second collection, the Marina collection, was inspired by the Marina neighborhood down the hill from where she currently lives. "It’s an inspiring area, alive with youth and beauty. Of course there are a lot of restaurants and bars there, but I went even further down the hill to the water. When you stand there, even for just a minute, you can’t help but be overtaken by this city. Never mind the crowds, you are surrounded by natural wonder with the blue water right before you and the Golden Gate bridge gleaming in the distance. It blows you away." Alexandra spoke with me about why she decided to be a fashion designer, what inspires her, and where she plans to take ALEX&RA in the next few seasons - read on!

When did you first decide you wanted to be a fashion designer?
I found my love for fashion design in high school. I was always cutting up club t-shirts and making them into cute tube tops and off-the-shoulder tops. I'd even embellish them with all sorts of gems. I guess I just saw them as blank
canvases and used my creativity to stand out from the rest.

What was the first item you ever sold?

The first item I ever sold was a custom designed Prom dress for a friend in high school. It was a wonderful project and turned out really well!

What did you learn about selling your designs through Etsy, and what made you
decide to open your own website to sell through?
Etsy is a great place to sell handmade goods. I learned a lot about the value of customer service and good communication. Both sellers and buyers are supportive and encouraged me a lot throughout the past few months. I am so thankful for being introduced to it! The reason I decided to open my own shop was to connect more closely with my customers. I want the identity of my brand to be how people remember my line, so it was important to me to establish that online presence. So far it has proved to be a great step! My customers now have direct access to my collections and can easily learn more about me and my line.

Where do you find inspiratio
n from in your designs?
I am inspired by so much! First and foremost, I am inspired by the city of San Francisco. It is a remarkable place alive with culture and diversity. Every street has a story to tell. Every person has something unique to admire. Even a short stroll around the city gives me so many great ideas to work with! I am also largely influenced by art and vintage design. I think they give my line a unique feeling of history and permanence - not simply a trend for the season.

What has been your favorite piece you have designed?
My favorite piece that I have designed so far has to be the Black Pencil Dress with Ruffles. I love how understated the dress seems at first, but then when you put it on you are just overwhelmed by how amazing it makes you feel. It's flirty, super feminine, and easy to wear. I would wear it every day if I could!

What type of girl do you envision wearing your designs?
The type of girl I envision wearing my designs is hard to say. I think my work appeals to a wide range of people - the younger crowd, the business crowd, the party girls, the students etc. That's what I love most about my line. What they have in common is their appreciation for handmade, high-quality work and the importance of staying unique. So much of fashion these days is duplicated, comes in a million different colors, and is worn by everyone on the street. My line is for the girls who want something of their own, something just for them.

Can you share a little about where you plan to take your line in the next few seasons? Any particular colors/fabrics/shapes you want to work with?
My next collection will be based on all the beautiful summer days spent in Golden Gate Park. It will include more dresses and more intricate skirts. My customers have responded really well to volume and detail, so I will definitely continue on that route. I am excited to work with more cottons and especially floral prints. It will be a very feminine collection to take my girls from summer into early fall. Keep checking back to my website for more updates!

If you are a California girl at heart, or you just want to get your hands on some amazingly designed skirts and dresses, ALEX&RA is the place to go! Shop at the ALEX&RA website, or the ALEX&RA etsy store.


InnyVinny said...

Love it. Thanks for the links, girlie. She sounds super sweet and I like the line.

kirstyb said...

lovely skirts xoxoxo

Zoƫ said...

great post!
love your blog too btw.


Lottie said...

wow, interesting!
if you want to enter my competition you have to tell me where your fave place for a bargain is(im dying to know actually, you have great style!)

Anthea said...

Love your blog ! This designer is great :) Want to link exchange?

Maverick Malone said...

That's so cool :) Great feature. I spent the past four months in SF, I wish I had known about her then!

Her skirts are amazing. Love the silhouettes!

Stacy said...

her skirts are great, love the little details!


MizzJ said...

Lovely designs! Those first 2 skirts are gorgeous, I'm def going to check out her site.

Queen of Mayhem said...

awesome structure!!