|When did your fascination with fashion design begin?
I’m originally from Milan, Italy. The place my family lived in Italy is very famous for their leather goods. My grandfather was a clothier specializing in designing men suites for himself and for his friends. I’m very much into smells, and I remember really loving the smell of fabric and design. I began developing an obsession for design which at that time translated into sawing clothes for dolls. In 1985 I started to sketch. My father, however, wasn’t pleased with my interest in fashion and design. He’s idea for success was to pursue a career in Finance. So I put my sketch book to the side and followed my father’s advice. When I finished school, I did however, mange to work shortly for Giorgio Armani during Moda time, which is Milan’s fashion week as an interpreter. I was good with languages. Even just as an interpreter at Giorgio Armani people around me noticed my eye for style and fashion. In 1994 I moved to the USA and began working for JP Morgan. I moved to Merrill Lynch and worked there from 1998-2005. Our CEO was replaced with a new one and our company downsized. I managed to stay for a while but I was unhappy with office politics anymore, so I decided to leave. After my first daughter was born, I wanted to do what I actually love.
What was the first garment you’ve designed as part of the Ottavia et Emma collection presented during New York Fashion Week?
It was a very sensual chiffon dress, see through with silk underneath.
How would you describe the Ottavia et Emma design philosophy?
Ottavia et Emma designs are made with high quality fabrics and don’t follow fashion trends. The Ottavia et Emma fashion line is very simple, sophisticated but super cute. I choose to design in neutral and practical colors such as black. It is what I personally like to wear. I find the color black easy to live with. It makes any woman’s closet classic and elegant and wearable at the same time. For me it is a combination of basics. I like to combine styles or mix and match my outfit with different designer pieces. I see women wearing a top from Ottavia et Emma paired with Calvin Klein or Marc Jacobs pants. When I came to work the other day I was wearing pieces from the gap mixed with Chanel. Ottavia et Emma has many tops that you can layer also. I love mix and matching, it’s so much fun! I’m in love with my collection, and I’m wearing pieces from it as we speak.
” I’m fascinated with black. And that came from the time growing up in Milan in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Everyone was wearing black back then in Milan. I find black extremely sophisticated and easy to wear..”
Where do you draw the inspiration for the styles and colors for Ottavia et Emma?
I design for myself and pieces that I would like to wear. This is the design starting point for me. I would never be able to design clothes that don’t really belong to me or are a reflection of what I like to wear. I was pregnant during the fitting time for Ottavia et Emma and I couldn’t try on the pieces in my collection. I was desperate to try on the clothes in my collection to make sure they feel and wear exactly how I would like. So I would ask the fitting model tons of questions and make her do almost yoga moves to makes sure my clothes in the Ottavia et Emma collection are comfortable and just right! And I would listen carefully to the model’s feedback and make all the adjustments necessary to make my collection extremely comfortable and wearable to all women. Milan is also an inspiration for me particularly with colors. I’m fascinated with black. And that came from the time growing up in Milan in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Everyone was wearing black back then in Milan. I find black extremely sophisticated and easy to wear.
What some memorable moments do you have in your journey of creating the Ottavia et Emma fashion line?
Just watching the Ottavia et Emma collection evolve from designing tops into designing feminine dresses with lace and open back. When I had my first fitting I was laughing hysterically watching my model walking down my apartment wearing my clothes. It looked great! When I had friends gathering everyone wanted to have pieces from the Ottavia et Emma collection. All I was hearing was: “I want this one and this one…”. It is such a great satisfaction.
What does the name Ottavia et Emma stand for?
Ottavia et Emma is named after my two daughters. They have no idea what I’m doing now but I really hope that when they grow up they will have fun with it. I really want eventually when my youngest daughter turns 4 to design Ottavia et Emma Mademoiselle fashion line for children ages 4-12.
Why have you chosen Melody Vilbert who is Miss France 1995 to be the ambassador for Ottavia et Emma?
A famous French photographer took a cute photo of Melody Vilbert in Paris with her son Romeo on the bridge wearing Ottavia et Emma. And this is why Melody Vilbert is a perfect image for the Ottavia et Emma collection: she is sophisticated elegant and also a mom. Ottavia et Emma is also elegant yet practical and fits a busy mom’s life style. Melody was very excited to represent the line. In addition, Melody Vilbert, is a super model in Europe. She had a successful campaign with Luis Vuitton, Escada, Galliano, and Christian Dior. Melody is glamorous but a real woman and down to earth who we can all relate.
What was New York Fashion Week Like for Ottavia et Emma?
I wasn’t there, I was in France. But my team was there in New York. They had a fantastic evening at the Cellar Bar at the Bryant Park Hotel, where the party for Ottavia et Emma took place. It was packed. And I was told that even actress Emma Roberts was trying to get into the Ottavia et Emma party and the guy at the door sent her away because the party was just too full. All in all, it was a great success!
Which other celebrity women do you see wearing Ottavia et Emma?
Heidi Klum, Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, and Uma Thurman.
What else should we know about Ottavia et Emma?
We focus on natural fabrics and on superb quality fabrics and design, yet allow the woman who wears Ottavia et Emma shine though. Ottavia et Emma is for a woman who is super feminine who doesn’t need the clothes to make her, she makes the clothes. She doesn’t need any designer label or logo to make a style statement.
Who are some of your favorite fashion designers?
Giorgio Armani, Calvin Klein, and Jill Sander.
What’s next for Alessandra and Ottavia et Emma?
I’m extremely excited in what I’m doing right now and I just want to keep going. I really want eventually ,when my youngest daughter turns 4, to design Ottavia et Emma Mademoiselle fashion line for children ages 4 to 12.
It was a pleasure to interview Alessandra you can check out her amazing website www.ottaviaetemma.com.
Ottavia et Emma Organic Cotton Tees now on sale! $68 on The Luxary Spot Store!