Travelling Designers: Arianna Alexis
Tell us a bit about yourself and your nomadic lifestyle.
I am Texas born, world travelled, and currently call Paris home. I graduated from Parsons School of Design majoring in Fashion Design with a minor in Creative Entrepreneurship in May 2017 and just this year established my outerwear label Arianna Alexis based between Dallas and Paris, aimed at the global market.
How do your travels and nomadic lifestyle influence your designs?
“She said she didn’t like straight lines” or rather, I said I didn’t and printed it on the inside of my coat pocket. My life doesn’t go in one direction and neither do my silhouettes. My entire identity evolved around the way I would dress for travelling—the key piece being my coat. I wanted to establish a niched label targeting one thing well, that being hand-crafted outerwear for travelling citizens. I don’t work on a fast-fashion basis, rather that my audience can find outerwear for any season as the coats are designed individually with fabrics coming from a different place I travel every time.
How does being a nomad impact your sense of self in terms of being a designer?
Time feels different when you travel, and living a nomadic lifestyle makes the 9 to 5 move differently—I don’t want to be dictated by a system created to circulate in one place. Inspiration becomes stagnant when you’re in a fixed position. I create and design better when I’m freely wandering somewhere new. That not only goes for my designs but for my system of production, releasing a different coat from where I am at the time—maybe that’s three new designs from a destination in one month or one new design.
How do all of your travels and places you've lived translate into your aesthetic and approach to fashion?
My southwest upbringing and Parisian living merge to create my style and aesthetic. I see the luxury and sophistication of Paris in the silhouettes of my coats mixed with southern desert colors and tones. I like architectural and asymmetrical shapes, but with a rawness and organic feel to the material and color. All of my collections I drape from the mannequin, and pattern myself—paying tribute to artisanal design values, with a hand-crafted, sustainable approach.
Some in the fashion industry think that staying in a fixed place or fashion capital is essential. What's your take?
Fashion is so clearly evolving from the typical “fashion capital” and “city/business” approach. The market is over-saturated with the predictable, and consumers are more curious and conscious of what they are buying and what they desire. I think companies that have a new approach to the system are the ones that stand out most to consumers. People want to connect and respond better to brands with stories, collecting meaningful things—it's not about just buying for the sake of buying in the fashion capital of the world where the shelves are overflowing with “stuff”.
You've lived in numerous places with different cultures. How does fashion function across these cultures?
It’s not so much a structured identity, rather a dialogue of proportion and color across different cultures. Form meeting function, between the person and the garment. Travelling between 5th Ave and West Village where anything out of the norm isn’t looked upon twice, to Kuppam in the south of India where if I didn’t cover my ankles I would be dishonoring their society. Dressing for travel is an awareness, and sometimes fashion isn’t the message, rather cultural symbolism.
What inspired you to live a nomadic lifestyle?
Inspired by season location and culture, circling the globe 3 times a year, campaigns happen where I am… in the moment. My never ending lust for newness motivates my constant desire for travel, and the existential search for where…?
What do you love most / what is the most rewarding part of your travels and ability to live in numerous places?
I love getting on a plane at a moments notice, flying overnight to wake up in a new place where you don’t speak the language or are familiar with the culture, and stepping out of yourself to just observe. The reward from travel is the awakening experience that makes you self reflect and appreciate the simple things in life—I always travel carry on, and it has taught me that you don’t need stuff or things or baggage—just yourself and an open mind…. oh, and that perfect coat of course.
How does fashion serve as a rooting force for you throughout your travels?
Fashion is communication, and when you are wandering through crowds of people, city streets, grass fields, open landscapes, busy airports you can not talk, you can only pass by, and your outerwear speaks for you. At the end of the day, it’s that flash of color in front of you, or that silhouette in passing you remember—that speaks to you, that sticks with you.
See more of Arianna Alexis.