The Designer Who Wishes She Kept Her Bat Mitzvah Swag

Susan Alexandra. Photo: Meghan Mcneer

Susan Alexandra made an impression at New York Fashion Week when she hosted her presentation at a bagel shop where the waitresses were drag queens who sang “Skid Row” from Little Shop of Horrors. Exuberance and excess is the point of her brand — she’s known for beaded handbags in candy colors. And she’s exactly as whimsical and over-the-top as the bags. We spoke with her about quirky socks, her “passion” for scents, and never wearing uncomfortable shoes.

How do you thank someone for a gift? 
The old-fashioned way — via text.

What would you never wear?
Never again will I wear shoes that hurt, no matter how gorgeous they may be. Also, I will never wear one of those “keep calm and kale matcha latte yoga” tees.

What’s your dream vacation? 
The French countryside when lavender and roses are in bloom or Mexico City with massive suitcases so I can buy everything.

What’s a good book on your coffee table right now? 
I’m reading selected short stories by Issac Bashevis Singer and flipping through books on beaded objects throughout the ages.

Last show you binge-watched?
Better Things, Shrill, and Killing Eve. I could go on but I’ll spare you.

Secret to hosting a good party? 
Make sure there is an endless array of food and drink. And that there is something to nosh on from the moment guests enter. No one should go hungry.

What is a trend that you like right now? 
Fluidity and exuberance. We’re in a time when over-the-top, saturated, decadent color; spark; pattern; and shine are celebrated. Or at least, I’m celebrating them.

One you don’t understand? 
Minimalism. I wish I understood it. I admire it and I am in awe of it, but I can’t embody or understand it. I’m not the Phoebe Philo for Celine gal.

Favorite museum/gallery?
La Casa Azul in Mexico City is one of the most extraordinary museums I’ve ever visited. In New York, the galleries I frequent are Canada, PPOW, Sargent’s Daughters, Marlborough. The Met is incomparable and I love the Whitney at night, when you can have entire galleries to yourself.

Shoes you wear most often? 
Sneakers. I walk so much and I refuse to suffer (I learned the hard way). I wear Nike Air Max 97 or Air Max 95’s, high-top Vans or Tretorn’s.

What is your favorite place in your studio/office/home?
I love my studio because it’s a physical manifestation of all of my dreams. It’s validation that I’ve worked really hard and created space (literally) for so many people to come and learn and work.

What’s your favorite…

I just stumbled on the softest pair of sweatpants at American Eagle. In the summer, a silky bias cut nightgown feels delicious. Anything Carole Lombard or Greta Garbo would have worn is the inspiration.

Burnin’ For You or Halcyon Hotel. The scents are so lovely that I’ll dab the wax on my temples and wrists.

Scents are my passion. Right now, I alternate between Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle, which makes me feel very dignified and empowered. The scent I always have on hand is Lakshmi by the Goddess Line. I am stopped on the street for this one, it’s so clean and comforting.

Baz Bagel is right by my apartment and they have gluten-free bagels, dairy-free cream cheese and lox. Takahachi on Avenue A for sushi, Soba-ya for Tuna Don bowls, Kiki’s for all around dazzle, B&H dairy for borscht, Cervos to be transported to a starry night in Portugal, Lupe’s for summer margaritas and Carthage Must Be Destroyed for the absolute best brunch in NYC.

Art socks, in general. I buy them each year as a Hannukah gift to myself. Today’s socks feature a Modigliani painting.

I have one perfect, old heather gray American Apparel tee and a beloved vintage tie-dyed tee I found in a vintage warehouse. A deep regret I carry is that I didn’t keep my Bat Mitzvah T-shirt; the slogan was “passion for fashion.”

What three photos define your style?

I love this picture because it embodies my summer style ethos. Dog (always), exuberant minidress (free use of color, very comfortable and impervious to trend), the Ash Bag (one of my favorites, I truly believe it goes with any outfit) and summer tan (my favorite way to be).

This is from one of the best shoots I’ve ever done. I love the abundance of color and STUFF in the image. All the things I love in one place.

This shoot embodies the entire brand aesthetic. Maximalist use of color, texture, props and products.

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The Designer Who Wishes She Kept Her Bat Mitzvah Swag