A modern woman who is always refined, elegant, effortlessly looking cool. When it comes to fashion, Alexandra Popescu York’s style is difficult to reproduce. The Romanian-born designer, now based in New York, is the only designer in the world who has presented artworks of different categories at the same show, at the same time. She has been painting since the age of three and has studied fashion design and plastic arts at the University of Arts in Bucharest.
Natalia Ghilașcu: Why did you choose to present this type of collection in NYC and what were the reactions?
Alexandra Popescu-York: New York is the capital of fashion in my opinion, it is my city where I’ve been living for 15 years now, and it’s a perfect match for me. Recently, I developed a more affordable and easy to wear line for women and men(!), that still keeps my esthetic but it’s more adaptable to nowadays and the New York Soho vibe. My brand is currently carried by a prestigious store in Soho, Flying Solo, a hub for independent designers.
I recently showcased my line at two runway shows during New York Fashion Week: one – at the prestigious Pier 59, with Flying Solo, and the other – a much larger collection with NYFW, powered by Art Hearts Fashion at Angel Orensanz. Both shows had amazing success, with celebrities and influencers madly in love with my line, and I could name more than a few.
In other news, I launched my men’s line last November and, starting Feb 2020, my shoeline is official as well. I started designing at a very young age, and designed my first men’s collections almost 20 years ago. It was for a company that I first worked with after I graduated with my Art and Design University degree. Therefore, creating a line for cool men was familiar to me, and much needed in the market.
N.G: Does it take to be a woman leader or a rich woman to succeed in the beauty and fashion industry?
A.P:Y: You definitely have to be a leader to succeed in the fashion industry. It’s better to be rich, it’s easier to support all the processes that have to be done. I was not rich, nor am I today either. But I am a leader, a very stubborn one. I know that I have what it takes to succeed in the fashion world. I have the smarts, the talent, I have the education and I put in the hard work. I started with very little money and till this day I invest everything I have to make this “machine” work. I progress and that is the ultimate goal.
N.G: How do you describe your team at the moment? I could remark that your children were also part of the show?!
A.P.Y: My children are not just children. They are part of my universe in all forms. They get to see my hard work in my studio for months, but also the inner workings of a very interesting and exclusive, glamourous world – the world of runway shows, supermodels, extremely talented professionals, both backstage and on stage, members of the press from all over the world etc. They are insiders of a magical world.
Growing up, I received great guidance from my mother and grandmother, and it was them who I got the art bug from. Thanks to all the art museum trips and hundreds of art albums, art took over my soul. I was fortunate to be able to study what I love in this life.
I hope my boys will be inspired by my dream to find their own, and to work hard for it. My children – AJ, 9 years old, and Ralph, 7 – they’ve walked the runway since they were toddlers. They know more about the fashion industry and showbiz than many adults do. I don’t know if they will choose this path but I want them to learn what I am so passionate about.
N.G: What have been the most difficult steps in your journey to become a fashion designer?
A.P.Y: The most difficult for me was to have the money to sustain myself and my projects. My journey to become a fashion designer was not hard for me. It was meant to be. I started very, very young. I studied, I went to the best schools possible at that time in my home country, I started working for great fashion companies. I was a true designer at a young age. To become a successful independent designer is very difficult. You’d need financial support, or you’d have to have your own money to invest in yourself and your brand. This is still my biggest challenge. If I had more money to invest, I could’ve developed a bigger network and a stronger production.
Another problem that I encountered is finding the right public and customer. I have designed beautiful, intricate gowns in the past, one-of-a-kind couture pieces that are not affordable for the average person, although I want it to be and it should be. People need to be educated in that sense. Everybody loves my designs, everybody loves my shows.
I had many enthusiastic fashionistas fly from far corners of the globe just to see my shows. The problem for me is that not many had the financial power to buy my product or they viewed it as an untouchable piece of art. I need to educate my public to fully understand and buy my products. The shows are not only entertainment, but for customer education purposes as well.
It’s a very fast paced world, where clients buy at a click of a button something cheap to serve their urge for shopping, but it’s harder to invest in something special. I need to raise an awareness to the high fashion consumer, and fashion in general, to invest in independent designers. If you want the creativity to prosper, step away from fast fashion and from global brands that create “uniforms”, and buy creative pieces made by independent designers.
N.G: When you think of your past and your path, what, or who, made you who you are today?
A.P.Y: Where I was in the past and what/who made me who I am today? It’s selfish to say that it’s all me but it’s (part of) the truth. I always worked hard and I’ve always been very ambitious. I feel that I went on my “normal” path. For me it’s only fair to be where I am today if not even higher. I put in the work, much more than all the people I know.
“Nobody succeeds alone”. My path was blessed with a few people that believed in me, and the most important of them all is my husband. He recognized my talent. He met me when I was working for a fashion company in New York, 12 hours a day and sometimes weekends as well. When we started a family, we decided that it was better to dedicate my time to raising the children, and building the foundation to our own company. They make my dreams come true. He is the one that believes in me the most, and supports me every single day in all my endeavors.
During my life I had a few other people that shaped my path: from my mother and grandmother, who sacrificed their lives for me, and taught me how to be a strong woman, with integrity, and to fight for my dreams, to my first art teacher. The companies where I worked and finally the fashion producers where I have my shows. Andres Aquino, from Couture Fashion Week, who I showcase my runway shows for years with. Erik Rosette, from New York Fashion Week, powered by Art Hearts Fashion.
The owner of the store and production company Flying Solo, carries my brand. Also, I couldn’t have succeeded without the continuous help of Gabriela Panduru, fashion coordinator and PR. She was present at all my shows and events I’ve been doing over the last 6 years. And – my army of friends, photographers (Cristina Cosa, Iulian Popa, Paul Kim to name a few) that follow me at all my events, and without whom I couldn’t have so many amazing photos to share with you. I want to thank all these people, and many more that I didn’t list today, but I thank them and appreciate them with all my heart.