Whether a simple suit co-ord for work or a cocktail dress with colourful prints, there is no doubt something from Alice + Olivia has caught your eye before. It’s no wonder why the brand is so well-loved by millennial women: the design, choice of colour, fabric and cut are tailored to the modern woman. With her attention to texture, silhouette, and colours, CEO and creative director Stacey Bendet has transformed her simple desire of a pair of bold bell-bottom pants into a fashion empire that speaks to women from all walks of life.
In this interview, Nana Asia sits down with this feminine mystique, delving into her vision, designs and the latest fashion trends we should keep a lookout for in 2020.
Nana Asia: We are eager to hear about the story of how and why you got into the fashion industry?
Stacey Bendet: I started making my own pants out of upholstery fabrics when I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. At the time, everyone was wearing jeans and I created pants in the cut of boot and bell bottom style jeans made from novelty fabrics. It was just the beginning of the contemporary fashion world, Andrew Rosen saw my pants in a small fashion show I did at the Russian Tea Room and offered to help me expand. We became known for creating great fitting pants and we grew from there… Once we had a cult following for our pants, we began to outfit them!
Nana Asia: It’s easy for us to get lost in all the different trends nowadays. Which one trend would you like to recommend to our readers for this season?
Stacey Bendet: I love colour for how it can tell a story or change a mood. Colourblocking is definitely in this Spring and a sure way to stand out! I love how bright warm colours like orange and pink can highlight a silhouette. Also, don’t be afraid to pair pastels with bright colours – try pairing a mint statement top with bright orange pants, I absolutely love this look too. Colourblocking brings a chic confidence to a woman’s appearance and feels fresh!
Nana Asia: What’s your advice in achieving this season’s hottest looks and what are the must haves from your latest collection?
Stacey Bendet: For our most recent Fall 2020 Show- I love our faux leather and faux croc pieces. The faux leather is almost indistinguishable from real leather and pairs well with our camo print to give our girl that sophisticated edge. I also can’t wait to wear the faux oversized blazer with the autumn gold blousan sleeve mini dress…pairing the two makes for the perfect modern bohemian look.
Nana Asia: Can you choose your favourite piece from this year’s collection?
Stacey Bendet: That’s like choosing my favourite child! Hmm, from my Fall 2020 Show – I love the pieces that represent modern renaissance. I was deeply inspired by the renovation of my apartment, by the gothic elements of the building’s grand architecture. I love the baroque elements of this collection, the structured dress stands out even more with the bronze brocaded fabric. Furthermore, I also love the juxtaposition of printing renaissance artwork on sweatshirts like Bottecelli’s Birth of Venus!
Nana Asia: Whoever said you can’t mix business with pleasure? Please share with us some tips on how ladies can take a look from day to night.
Stacey Bendet: I make clothes for the modern woman and her clothes need to take her throughout her day- from day to night. It’s all about layering, mixing and matching pieces, adding a dramatic brocade textured coat over a print dress, mixing in a faux leather trench with a mini camo dress and using your accessories to make that switch from day to night. Your look has to function for your life!
Nana Asia: We appreciate you launching these Female Empowerment Dinners (F.E.D.)! What’s your consensus on female empowerment and how do your designs play a part in it?
Stacey Bendet: I started the F.E.D dinners because fashion inspires and can be a voice for change. Women are in a position to create social impact and better the world for everyone and the only way we can do that is by uniting…by coming together and raising awareness we become the megaphone for change. I held my first F.E.D. at L’Avenue in NYC to connect female boss babes and celebrate our Classics Collection which is my modern take on women’s workwear. I would love to bring my F.E.D to Asia to continue the conversation and raise awareness for the various issues we support.
Nana Asia: How has the rise of social media influenced your approach to promoting your brand?
Stacey Bendet: Social Media has allowed every brand to have a voice and market their business in a more direct way- I get to connect with my followers, customers, potential customers in a more personal way. For example, I get to show my followers snippets of my personal and family life while showing off the latest collection I designed! There is definitely an increased degree of intimacy. We are not just designers anymore. I can also voice my support for issues that I’m passionate about – like female empowerment, protecting the environment and yoga!
Nana Asia: What’s the most current artist collaboration for Alice + Olivia that you’d like to get our readers excited about?
Stacey Bendet: I recently held my second F.E.D. and launched a collaboration with artist Lakwena. I love her use of bold colours and slogans and our shared vision of raising awareness about human trafficking. Her slogans and designs appear on pieces like a reversible kimono and a ballgown skirt. A part of the proceeds from this collection will go to LifeWay Network – an organization that helps rehabilitating victims of human trafficking! I’m so happy to be able to collaborate with Lakwena on this project, and I really want to thank my friend Nicky Hilton for introducing me to this program. When women work together great things really do happen!
Nana Asia: In your own words, how would you describe fashion?
Stacey Bendet: Fashion is about the ability to inspire and be inspired.
Nana Asia: Any words of advice for newcomers into the fashion industry?
Stacey Bendet: Trust your instinct and eye! It’s really important to have a point of view in today’s fashion market. Don’t be afraid to experiment and stand firm with what you believe in.