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Fashion TV Presenter & Journalist | Paris
Meet the captivating TV presenter and journalist who is deeply entrenched in the fashion world and embodies the elegance of Paris's Left Bank.
RV: Alexandra, can you share with us your background?
AG: My father is Franco-Russian and my mother is Franco-Slavic. We have a house in Brittany where I spent my childhood, and my mother before me. I love Brittany, it’s so beautiful. I find it really revitalising. I love sophistication, beauty, fashion, make-up, but then also, more than all of that, I love wearing oversized jumpers and old clogs. I’m relaxed and smiley, but at the same time, I’m very shy. I love to be one thing and then the exact opposite. I grew up in the 16th arrondissement and my parents were quite unusual in the world we lived in. They were antique dealers, slightly bohemian and very open-minded. During the holidays, my family would go away, and my two sisters and I would sit in the back of the car singing Russian songs at the tops of our voices. We’d travel to Munich, Vienna or the English countryside. Our parents taught us about beauty: that objects not only have to be useful, they also have to be beautiful, otherwise there’s no point. My mother, who can do many things with her hands, such as sewing and knitting, made our clothes for years. We’d go to the Marché Saint Pierre and choose our fabrics, and then she’d make our clothes. If there was some material left over, we’d make clothes for our dolls. I spent days on end with my mother cutting patterns, watching her knit and counting the stitches with her. I initially came to learn about the world of fashion and clothing thanks to my mother.
RV: Did you pursue various avenues before finding your path in media and fashion?
AG: Yes, I did, because I was very curious! I was a costume designer for films, I worked a lot in finance, in art, African crafts, on the floor of the stock exchange in Paris – it was very eclectic. I really liked getting into a system and getting to know it intellectually. I worked on the assumption that everything is interesting. Then at a certain point, I said to myself, I need to find a more permanent job, and that’s when I had the idea of becoming a journalist. It meant that I could juggle different subjects, and I loved the fact that people had to answer my questions. I started out at a small production company that produced economic and financial programmes for Paris Première. Then I had my own show, which I loved, called “La Blonde et Moi”, doing economic and political interviews with the top executives of the CAC 40, entrepreneurs and start-ups. For the last decade or so, I’ve presented “La mode, la mode, la mode” on Paris Première, which is about news, trends, designers and fashion shows.
RV: How do you think the fashion world has changed over the years, and which designers stand out for you?
AG: I’m really grateful to be in the fashion world, if for no other reason that it’s meant that I’ve got to know Karl Lagerfeld. He's incredible! The way his mind works is totally unique. It’s pure intelligence, but there’s also opportunism – he’s able to grasp a trend completely, at exactly the right time, and transform it into a design. He’s also very generous and is fiercely loyal to his team. He’s also grown so much on a human level, as he’s very kind and considerate. Now, it’s the generation of people in their 40s, such as Nicolas Ghesquière, Hedi Slimane and Stella McCartney. Obviously there's also Karl Lagerfeld, who is the only designer left from his generation. There’s also Marc Jacobs and Jean Paul Gaultier, but they’re taking on slightly different directions now. In general, the people who create fashion are unique; they’ve fought hard, because it’s such a hard world where you have to work day and night. They are people who have this driving force within them, they’re so passionate, and they can’t begin to imagine doing anything else.
RV: Who are some of the up-and-coming designers coming to the fore, in your opinion?
AG: That’s a difficult question, one that nobody can really answer for fear of getting it wrong. Julie de Libran, who has taken over at Sonia Rykiel, is really talented. She’s worked at Prada and Louis Vuitton, and she’s going to breathe new life into Sonia Rykiel with a really French, very Parisian touch. The Rykiel shop on Boulevard Saint-Germain is really striking, it's decorated with 50,000 books! There’s also J.W. Anderson who’s taken over at LOEWE and he’s also launched his own label. He’s a 25-year-old prodigy who can do everything, and has a similar approach to Burberry’s Christopher Bailey from Britain. This young generation can conceptualise everything: from the design and the marketing, to understanding the digital world.
RV: Which are some of your favourite French and international labels?
AG: I’m both versatile and also really loyal. You don’t always want the same thing, and it’s great to try a new look and not always stay in the same uniform. I’m really impressed by Prada and I’m interested in their world, which I think is beautiful and quite intriguing. Apart from that, when it comes to fashion, I love Isabel Marant. She’s an incredible woman who set up her brand on her own 20 years ago, and she’s been a huge success. I admire women in general. Miuccia Prada and Isabel Marant are both women with a vision, they know what they want, and they do their own thing. They are two totally different worlds, on different scales. As I said before, I also really like Julie de Libran and what she’s doing at Sonia Rykiel. As for men, I’ve always been a huge fan of Nicolas Ghesquière, since his time at Balenciaga.
RV: How would you describe the creativity that you see every day?
AG: Creativity is a reaction to what you experience and what’s around you. It’s the expression of a different world of possibilities from the one that already exists. Also, there are as many creative talents as there are different ways of creating. But they’re all looking for something new, even if their style is retro. Marc Jacobs has a lot of retro references, while Karl Lagerfeld would never consider to create something that already exists. But they don’t all have the same way of doing things. Some are really intellectual, some travel for inspiration, like John Galliano for example. As for Saint-Laurent, he never used to move from his chair reading books to find inspiration. Others are more intuitive. And so on. Designers can’t explain where it comes from, and they’re not really interested in finding out. They just think “Why not?” They just ask themselves, “Is there a desire for that?”
RV: What are your favourite things about Paris?
AG: I grew up on the Right Bank and as an adult I’ve lived on the Left Bank. They are two different worlds. In the Left Bank, people are so elegant. It's a village where people know each other and there’s a real relationship with the shopkeepers they say hello to every day. I also love Place Saint Sulpice. Every time I walk past it, I remember how beautiful it is. As soon as I come home after travelling, it really has an effect on me. I think to myself “I’m home”. I’ve also lived all around the square: Rue Bonaparte, Rue du Four, Rue Madame. It feels open and airy, there’s always a breeze, and seagulls, which is surprising. In terms of restaurants, there are a few that I really like, including two Japanese restaurants: BlueBerry (6 rue du Sabot, 75006) which is great, perfect for girls who want to keep an eye on their figure. Then there's Yen (22 rue Saint-Benoît, 75006) which has been there for a long time; it really feels like a corner of Kyoto, they do great soba noodles. L’Oenosteria is a fantastic and charming little Italian place (40 rue Grégoire de Tours, 75006). If I’m going out with friends or have a business meeting, I love Café de Flore (172 boulevard Saint-Germain, 75006), it’s a magical place that’s filled with history.
Interview By: Enrique Nalda
Photography: Garance Dore
Interview first published in RedVisitor Magazine Issue Three - Purchase Now
M O R E I N T E R V I E W S . . .