‘Von Alexandria’ didn’t start out as a fashion designer. Her first creative venture was as a ballet dancer. However, as excellent a dancer as she was, she felt as if something was missing. After gaining a degree in design, she landed a role as an assistant designer for Alfred Angelo – a bridal boutique specializing in Christian Dior gowns. This was her first real introduction to fashion design and for once she felt a real passion for what she was doing. She soon hung up her ballet shoes for good.
Her ”life changing” moment was yet to come, however. On a typical Philadelphia day, with the sun sitting high in the sky and people merrily going about their business, she saw a man holding a newspaper. On the front of the paper was a story of a young girl who had been murdered. Living in Philadelphia, she read about such hideous crimes every day and yet, this particular story hit her hard.
That evening, she saw a news report on television, explaining how confiscated murder weapons, were being melted down and discarded. A designer with her own label, her creative mind figured that something positive could be done with this recycled metal. She could create accessory pieces resulting in “beauty out of destruction”. Von Alexandria had always wanted to give back to the world, and this was her chance. She wrote to Philadelphia City Officials and after a brief meeting ‘Melting Weapons of Violence into Accessories’ or MWVA, was born.
Von Alexandria continues to go from strength to strength. She has shown her lines in New York, for the last four years to great acclaim. Runway caught up with this inspirational woman to talk about her desire to eliminate gun crime, her SS 2010 collection, and the excitement over her projects.
RM: Will you continue to re-use gun metal in your future accessories collections?
VA: Yes I will. A portion of sales proceeds go towards the MVA Gunn fund, a charity providing funding for youths effected by gun violence. I am keen to continue to support this charity. It’s a cause for which I feel very passionate.
RM: Your Spring/Summer collection is titled ‘Illumination’. Where did you get your inspiration for this collection and what can we expect from it?
VA: I wanted to capture the essence of the word ’illuminate’ through my clothing, specifically, the light that illuminates from within. That was my inspiration. Pieces are loose and flowing, and shades are muted with textures ranging from raw silk, organza and stretch denim through to metal entwine.
RM: The collection sounds stunning. What is your favorite piece?
VA: I have fallen in love with one of my pieces. The piece is called ‘Folded Light’. It’s an unstructured, feminine dress in a beautiful, light cocoa shade. It ‘s truly beautiful.
RM: Regarding your accessories collection, what is your key pick ?
VA: Any piece mixed with black diamonds. Black diamonds and recycled gunmetal is such an unusual mix and really proves that beauty can come out of something negative.
RM: Moving into summer a lot of us are thinking ‘swimwear’. Can you see yourself designing swimwear?
VA: At the moment no, but then, never say never!…..
RM: When it comes to clothing, are you more of a summer or winter person?
VA: I am very much a summer person in terms of my personality. I also like to wear light-textured dresses, expose my skin and feel free from restraints, so summer suits me perfectly.
RM: How would you advise women to dress for summer?
VA: Add color! A lot of women are nervous of wearing- for example- a bright red dress, which is why my collection is based around neutral, muted tones. But if you combine neutrals with bright accessories, you can really make an outfit pop.
RM: In terms of design, do you prefer to design for Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer?
VA: I love to design for all seasons. My aim is to address the dilemmas/problem areas that women, including myself, have when dressing. That is why I don’t go down the form-fitting route with my designs. I prefer flowing, more forgiving shapes.
RM: What can we expect from your Fall/Winter 10’ collection?
VA: We have transferred gunmetal onto clothing, which is an exciting development .The collection consists of muted tones, but we have also added some richer, deeper shades of night and midnight to add a winter touch.
RM: Any exciting projects in the pipeline?
VA: In September we are launching a line of high-fashion prom dresses: ‘Heirs’. I wanted to move girls away from the huge, lace and taffeta numbers that you see. This line gives them an alternative: high fashion at an affordable price. They can still look like a princess at their prom, but a modern day ‘sophisticated’ princess, instead of a children’s fairytale version. We have pre-orders already. It is all very exciting!