5 Minutes with Italian Designer Alessandra Rich

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Photo: Courtesy of Alessandra Rich

Alessandra Rich’s exquisite, feminine designs are the stuff of fantasy, which is why she has gained such a loyal following among socialites, celebrities, and women who have a frequent need for occasionwear. The Italian-born, London-based designer has maintained a small team, with her husband acting as brand director since she launched her eponymous label in 2010 – despite the fact that her designs are worn by the likes of Meryl Streep and Diane Kruger.

By keeping her operations manageable, Rich is able to focus on the artistic side of design, taking care to source only the most luxurious materials for her beautiful creations. Over the years, Savoir Flair has witnessed Rich’s designs develop and evolve, from her lavish floor-length lace gowns to a broader category of ready-to-wear that includes jumpsuits, playsuits, and even a short cocktail dress or two. Here, we pick her brain on all things fashion.

What was it like growing up in such a beautiful region of Italy?
I grew up in the Veneto region in the north of Italy, close to the magical city of Venice. The surrounding countryside is not only dotted with beautiful Palladian villas and gardens, but it is also renowned for its long tradition of craftsmanship in areas of shoes and clothes manufacturing. I feel fortunate to have grown up in this area and still visit regularly to work on my collections there. I suppose that living with this culture and these traditions may have influenced the identity of my collections.

How do you anticipate Brexit affecting your brand or the way you conduct business?
Actually, I don’t know what will happen. I work between my office in the UK and my studio in Italy, and I like to think of my brand as European. We will adapt where necessary.

Are you a dreamer or a realist?
Dreams are my reality.

You started out in real estate, but then chose to embark on a career as a fashion designer. What went into that decision? Where did you receive your training to become a designer?
I think fashion is just a way to express yourself – it’s definitely great fun. I became a fashion designer following my ideas, my insights, and my desires… not exactly training, but sheer will.

When did things really start taking off for you?
Probably when Net-a-Porter’s Natalie Massenet saw my collection at the Ritz Paris. It was a stroke of luck.

What was it like dressing Meryl Streep for the Golden Globes?
I actually had no idea she was going to wear the dress. When I saw her on the red carpet, I was speechless. I didn’t sleep that night. I was that thrilled!

What has been the most surreal moment of your journey so far?
To see my dresses on the red carpet – I still don’t think it’s real

What do you think about the new “See Now, Buy Now” retail model?
I think retail models could change, but I don’t think there is one rule that fits every brand. At an operational level, the “See Now, Buy Now” model does not suit some brands, so I’m not sure if it’s a solution that will be adopted by everyone.

You and your husband are avid art collectors. What’s in your collection?
We have a small collection from all periods of art, not just contemporary, and in different mediums such as photography, painting, and sculpture. In my fashion collections, I don’t follow trends – I just design what I like. The same is true of our art collecting; we don’t follow trends and are guided by personal influences and memories. I would say that we are eclectic.

How is your Middle Eastern customer different to others? Why is she important for your brand?
I usually don’t make distinctions. My ideal customer believes in my idea of fashion as fun and loves to be herself, without following trends. I believe Middle Eastern customers appreciate the quality of design and fabrics – they know how to be different. These are women who love to express themselves with fashion and are interested in emerging talents. It’s a creative, thrilling, and challenging audience that is constantly evolving.

What makes you feel successful?
A question like that!

Alessandra Rich’s collection is available at Harvey Nichols – Dubai, Mall of the Emirates.