She’s creating pieces that make a statement.
The world is no stranger to Alessandra Rich and her luxurious ready-to-wear collections. Even if you’re not fully familiar with the London-based designer, you’ve definitely seen her designs on the fashion elite—think Beyoncé, Poppy Delevingne, and Hailey Baldwin.
Each collection Rich creates is based off a muse—either a fictional one or someone the designer knows personally—and that woman always exudes confidence; she isn’t afraid to walk around in a sheer shirt with her nipples exposed (our kind of girl). And while it may seem like Rich has been at the fashion game for ages, she spent much of her career working in her husband’s art gallery. Thankfully for the style world, she decided to launch her brand in 2010 while in her 40s and got a helpful nudge from Net-a-Porter founder Natalie Massenet, who helped push Rich’s third collection into production.
We caught up with the designer while she was in Toronto showcasing her latest collection at The Room in The Bay. In addition to drooling over Rich’s pieces (please just look at that sky blue blazer), we chatted with the designer about how she started her brand, why she loves a confident woman, and her new collaboration with Linda Farrow.
She went from decorating homes to designing dresses:
“My husband used to have an art gallery, and [I was there] for many years. From there, I started to search for properties in Europe for clients—Lake Como, South of France, or in London. From that, it developed into decorating their properties. Then when I was 41, I thought, ‘Let me start a fashion brand.’ We started very [small]. I remember I did my first collection, and then the second one took many more months than normal. Then with the third collection, Natalie Massenet of Net-a-Porter saw it, and that changed everything. I remember the first question that Natalie asked me was, ‘Do you think you could manage a production?’ I was like, ‘Of course.’ But it was not true. It was a massive learning curve, which it still is for different reasons. But you’re always learning something.”
The Alessandra Rich girl is confident and wears whatever she wants:
“My collections are always centered around a woman. It can be a fantasy woman or a real woman that I know—a woman that is very confident. She takes fashion not too seriously, and she’s very ironic. She knows that she’s on the limit of being proper but not proper at all, so she has very formal pieces but then some that are completely see-through. It’s a woman that pleases herself more than someone else. [There’s] always an edge of proper and classic and wrong and tacky. We’re very much on the border of falling in the category of being a little tacky.”
Many of the pieces are meant to show some skin:
“[The lace pieces] are going to be sold with a slip underneath for obvious reasons, but having said that, it’s incredible how many buyers [there are] in Paris. Poppy Delevingne wore it completely see-through, so we have that sort of client [who will] take it as it’s suggested, which is good. Thank God for these women. It’s not a question of age; it’s a question of how confident you are. Usually it’s always the woman that makes a dress. It’s never the other way around.”
The new collection includes a very special sunglass collab:
“We did this collection with Linda Farrow with the glasses. It’s something that is part of my father wearing glasses with a chain, and I thought, ‘Let’s do chains for these glasses.’ I think they’re going to be popular. [The shape is] small and mean.”
Rich wants her pieces to be dressed both up and down:
“I’m always the most plain one. I like myself to be intimate and not to expose too much—I leave the rest for the other women to have fun [laughs]. But it depends. I have many [favorites]; the florals in crepe de chine that have pleats, the jackets are really, really cool—the tweed as well as the doubler that is this thick wool. Those are very versatile, a little bit ’80s, and very easy. You [can] wear with anything from a pair of jeans to a mini skirt, leather pants—whatever you want.”
It never gets old seeing women in her pieces:
“I’m happy with a lot of things [in my career], and for me a super highlight is to be in Toronto now. Then, of course, a highlight is always when you see a woman and you see her wearing your pieces. To be a celebrity or not. That is probably the best part. We do have a very good group—super celebrities like Nicole Kidman or Beyoncé, as well as It girls who are just cool but not necessarily very popular.”