Alexandra Long recently moved her eponymous label from her awe-inspiring apartment—packed with taxidermy, neons, fluffy rugs and mirrored columns—to a more peaceful location in north London. To celebrate the milestone in work-life balance, and the soon to be released resort collection, we sat down to talk balancing the beautiful with the vulgar, ceramic dogs and getting away from it all.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on my new resort collection, which we haven’t done before. We’ve been going for two years, and have only done Spring/Summer, Autumn/Winter up ‘til now.
We’ve been trying to write customer profiles this week, she’s a women who is strong, powerful and in control of her own sexuality. Somebody with a naughty side, who also wants to be elegant and ladylike. She’s someone with a party trick up her sleeve...
I always like to have something unexpected in my dresses; a hidden pocket, lining printed with an Enigma code of dirty words, or the orgy prints from our last collection, which was pixelated pornography that looked like florals. I like to play with the unexpected, the clothes were in light fabrics, and had bias-cut, 1930s ladylike shapes, but there was something vulgar if you looked closer.
If you’re really hungover, dressing well is a good way to hide it...
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
Yes, from about the age of 12 after I stopped wanting to be a fairy.
I got an art scholarship to my senior school with a fashion collection. I made my own fabric, a batik fish print that I applied to a fish hat, which opened on the head. I think that was probably the start of it!
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Lots of coffee. I try to go to the gym every morning at 8am, that gets me out of bed and in a good frame of mind for the rest of the day. It’s gym one day, yoga the other.
What’s your wardrobe strategy?
This is a difficult question, because I should have a really good answer for it! It’ll always be occasion appropriate, if I know I’m going to a really important meeting, I’ll need to dress the part, which makes you feel the part.
And if you’re really hungover, dressing well is a good way to hide it...
I have always had the secret ambition of wanting to be a Bond girl...
What’s does a typical day look like?
I’ll come back from the gym, have some food, and make my way to our new office—which is great, I actually feel like I’m coming home at night, rather than having been at home all day and wanting to go out.
Every day is different, that’s why I love doing what I do. You never know what’s going to happen.
What’s your side hustle?
I paint, I love drawing and painting. It’s relaxing, a form of meditation, and it gets me into another zone.
I do all the drawings for my collections, but I don’t really like people to see them... I’m getting better at it, and slowly releasing illustrations into the world.
What would be your fallback career?
I don’t think think there could be a fallback career, this is what I want to do, this is it. Although I have always had the secret ambition of wanting to be a Bond girl...
I love it because it’s vulgar, but beautifully written—which is kind of what my clothes are like.
What’s the trashiest thing you love?
I like lots of trashy things, Paris Hilton? I used to idolise her as a teenager, The Simple Life was amazing. She’s very intelligent, she plays the dumb blonde game very well.
What are you reading?
Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller. It’s about an American guy who arrives in Paris in the 60s, I love it because it’s vulgar, but beautifully written—which is kind of what my clothes are like.
What is your rescue snack of choice?
Chocolate, dark chocolate. I consume so much of it. Apparently the oldest woman in Europe, who lived to 122, ate a kilo of dark chocolate a week.
Doing something that I love it means that it’s fine to be thinking about it as I’m falling asleep.
Where is your happy place?
A beach. I was in Cannes last weekend and the sea there is an incredible azure blue. I’d love to live somewhere with the sea in front of me, and the mountains behind me.
How’s your work/life balance?
Not very good. I don’t switch off from work at all, because it’s my thing. Doing something that I love it means that it’s fine to be thinking about it as I’m falling asleep, when I’m thinking about designs or new ideas; but worrying about paying bills and things like that, that’s not what I want to be doing.
Separating my office and my home will hopefully create a bit more balance, life was just squeezing in here and there before.
Where’s your favourite art spot?
I love the V&A, and the Guggenheim in Venice really inspires me. I love Peggy Guggenheim, I recently read her autobiography, what she did for modern art was amazing.
What inspired you to join Marguerite?
Joanna, really. She came to me to borrow some dresses at the beginning, and explained the concept. I came to a few events, and I loved it.
It can be difficult when you’re starting out, and it’s great to be in a room with other women who are so willing to help, to point you in the right direction and be friends.
Every collection I do feels like it’s my next greatest achievement, they just keep growing.
Where do you hang out at the weekend?
I’m now trying to hang out in the south of France every weekend... I like to get away from London as much as possible. It can get too much being here. Two days away is enough for me to switch off.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
This is the question I can’t answer honestly... Maybe my alternative answer would be collecting junk from fairs and car boor sales, filling my house with weird and wonderful objects, like ceramic dog statues.
Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party?
I think I would have: David Bowie, Debbie Harry, John Cleese for comedy value, Jennifer Saunders and the Dali Lama.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To be able to fly, that would be very handy.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Every collection I do feels like it’s my next greatest achievement, they just keep growing. At the end of each collection there’s a great sense of excitement and relief.
What’s next for 2017?
We’ll see... Watch this space!