Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Designer Spotlight: Alexandra DeClaris

Dolce & Gabana playsuit, YSL heels, Red Python Tote

I met Alexandra DeClaris (or Alex as we knew her at Marin Catholic) in biology class my sophomore year of high school. She was a freshman, but you would have never known it. She didn't have that usual awkwardness, eyes full of fear, and need for acceptance associated with a typical high school freshman. Alex was confident and beautiful and wore her Chanel sunglasses on the top of head like they were a tiara.  

It's rare in the world to have glimpses of people that have that "IT" factor, the people that even at a young age have the dynamism to propel themselves wherever they wish to go in life. I knew when I was fifteen Miss DeClaris was going to end up somewhere special. Nine years later, I am happy to say that while only twenty three,  Alexandra DeClaris is a rising star in the luxury accessories world. I believe that one day she will join the ranks of Judith Leiber, Guccio Gucci, and Louis Vuitton as household names.

Antonio Berardi jumpsuit, Christian Louboutin heels, Natural Lizard Envelope


Miss DeClaris grew up in Marin County, an affluent bedroom community just north of San Francisco. She recalls that she was always a passionate and persistent person, "When I was 11 years old I had saved up years worth of birthday and babysitting money to buy my first pony, when I was 13 years old I fell in love with a pair of Chanel sunglasses that I had to have ." While attending college in London,  the then nineteen year old Alex fell in love with a Nancy Gonzalez Alligator Tote, however, she "wasn’t going to endure the $5,000 credit card swipe for one bag."  The classic bag she describes as "simple, beautiful, with no logo" is what led her to the foundation of her company Alexandra DeClaris LLC. 

Black Python Small Box Clutch, $825

As Alex says "if I want it badly enough I will down anything to get it", and that's what she did. She said to herself "there must be a way to source the skins myself for a fraction of the cost of the Nancy Gonzalez bag" . So she hunted down manufacturers, tanners and leatherworkers and started out designing a classic box clutch in exotic skins. Then all of her friends wanted them, so DeClaris then began ordering them in bulk. As the orders expanded so did her business and she began designing more handbags in various shapes, skins, and colors. 

However, Miss DeClaris is not a newcomer to fashion. She had internships in London for Conde Nast Traveller, Tatler, and in the Public Relations department at Conde Nast.  After, she moved to New York to work for Vanity Fair. At Vanity Fair, she was known to spend time "matching the color of a piece of cardboard to coffee" so she could make sure to get the correct amount of milk in her editor’s coffee. While work may have seemed challenging she "enjoyed the intensity and panic of everything" but her passion for handbags still remained. She realized she had pushed it aside, "you only live once, so you need to do what makes you happy" she said as she reflects on leaving the editorial and public relations world to start her fledgling business. 
4 Times Square, Conde Nast Building

Alexandra DeClaris LLC is not any ordinary young person's first business endeavor. Alex's line of luxury handbags and clutches is exquisitely designed. Each bag is one of a kind and handcrafted using the highest grade quality of genuine exotic skins. All of the skins are dyed in a bespoke process to achieve precious colors that are unattainable to other retailers. DeClaris believes that color is the key to a beautifully unique handbag, "When you have a color that amplifies richness and depth, that's what truly stands out and makes people envious of your style."  As a brand, Alexandra DeClaris LLC prospers in its exclusivity and ability to produce innovative designs.  The company aims to create pieces that exude infinite glamour and timeless elegance. They aim to inspire their elite clientele to indulge in classic femininity. 

J brand black jeans, Christian Louboutin heels, Joie top, Cream Ostrich box clutch.
The Interview

D.E.: Describe your own personal style. Who are your style icons?
A.D.: My personal style is usually pretty casual with a touch of glam. When I am in New York I like leather skinnies or jeans with a top, and in London for a night out I am in a dress and heels. I had dinner at Pastis next to Iris Apfel the other night, whom I personally think is such an extraordinary style icon. I also think Grace Kelly possessed what it means to be truly classic as well as Azzedine Alaia. 

D.E: You live and work in both London and New York, how do the cities affect how you design for your customers?
A.D.:  My main base is in New York but I am in London about every other month. I created these bags with both places in mind. In London I tend to get more “dressed up” than I do in New York but I do find that my clientele in both cities are similar in style so I wanted to create bags that were universal. 

D.E: What are your favorite cities? 
A.D.: My favorite cities are New York, London, and Los Angeles. New York is number 1 because there really is no city like it. There is an energy that is indescribable, there are endless opportunities and possibilities- nothing is ever routine.  London is where my family is and it’s a great base to travel around Europe. It’s is a unique city that is so historical yet so modern and glamorous. You can still feel such a presence of history but everything is upscale. Los Angeles- I am a California girl at heart, so LA is the city for me that has it all. Healthy food, the beach and sun, shopping, hiking, I love the lifestyle in LA.

D.E.: How do you source your materials? Do you oversee manufacturing in New York? How is it to be a “hands on” designer?
A.D.: I source everything online and then speak to manufacturers to have samples sent to me. It will usually take a month and a half to get a sample exactly the way I want. I do oversee my manufacturing I speak to my manufacturers at least 3 times a week, and make sure everything is in order and everyone is happy. I think the key to success is having good relationships with the people that work for you because they are the ones creating your product.

D.E.: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
A.D.: In ten years, I hope to have expanded my brand to clothing and have my own boutiques around the world.

D.E: What are some upcoming fall trends? Any recommendations for trends you're seeing in the world of handbags.
A.D: Leather and Lace is a big one, skirts, pants, dresses anything in leather or in lace I have seen a lot of.  I love all of the winter white color every designer is incorporating into their collections, its very chic and I love white so large white coats and cashmere sweaters will brighten up the colder months to come. I think its important to buy handbags that are classic because a handbag is not a piece of clothing that you just buy and wear a couple of times. Typically, a handbag is an investment that is an essential piece of your every day outfit so it is important for you to pick out something that you like.

 To learn more about Alexandra DeClaris or to purchase her products please visit

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