São Paulo – This Tuesday (10) saw the launch of the Saudi Arabia Fashion Week, and a Brazilian brand will be part of this unprecedented moment. The French-inspired Maison Alexandrine, which has a luxury store in Jardim Paulistano district, in São Paulo, will show around 30 looks in the runway in Riyadh. The event runs until Saturday (14).
Maison Alexandrine will present a collection including high-fashion, evening gowns, a bride’s dress and abayas, the Muslim women garment. All the pieces will be worn by European models in an event that’s attracting the world’s attention for being a fashion show in one of the world’s most traditional Muslim countries.
From Riyadh, to where she travelled to attend the fashion show, entrepreneur Alexandra Fructuoso, the owner of Maison Alexandrine, talked to ANBA via phone this Monday (09) and told about the preparation. The brand will present its collection in the runway this Wednesday (11), at 8:30, Riyadh time (2:30 pm in Brasília), in Hotel Ritz Carlton.
The possibility of Maison Alexandrine taking part arose when the brand organized a presentation at the end of last year in Brazil’s embassy in Riyadh. The event was attended by Layla Abuzaid, a Brazilian who lives in Saudi Arabia and works for the local real family. It was her who organized the brand’s participation.
The brand provided a two-day show that was attended by the local press and prominent Saudi women, among them princesses. “They were very impressed with the quality and design of the clothes”, says Alexandra.
Initially, the abayas were designed for the business owner to use in her trips to Saudi Arabia, where the women need to cover their bodies and hair in public. The runway show will include abayas in dark blue, black, dark green and nude. They have the sleeves, collars and upper back embroidered, and some have pockets and others are pleated in the back.
The honor guests at the fashion show in Riyadh are Jean-Paul Gaultier and Roberto Cavalli.
Alexandra says that she did an informal survey in Dubai with 30 to 50 women, asking them how she should design the abayas. “I didn’t want to mess up,” says the entrepreneur. They talked about the need for the abayas to be loose-fitting, since they are used over the clothes, some of them stating that they only used black abayas, among other preferences.
Maison Alexandrine has a showroom in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, a market in which she entered around one year ago. And this experience helped her to design the abayas. Now, however, Alexandra believes she designed a very traditional collection and that she can be more playful in creating her next pieces.
Maison Alexandrine, which also has a showroom in Los Angeles, began its expansion abroad around 18 months ago. Alexandra says that she decided to enter the Middle East via Dubai because it’s a modern city and an accessible gateway. However, in her first visits to the region she went to Saudi Arabia. She fully intended to enter a market that she believed would be more difficult, less open.
The brand’s pieces matched with the preferences of the Arab women. “They know how to dress up, they’re educated women, with a perfect English,” she says, also sharing her experience in social events in people’s homes, to which she was invited and where she could see the Saudi women in their conventional clothing, always well-dressed.
Besides being the owner of Maison Alexandrine, Alexandra, who was born in Portugal and lives in Brazil since she was 19 years old, is also the brand’s creative director. To design the pieces, she’s assisted by her staff team Alexandrine Pret a Couture (prêt-à-porter with high couture) and by the designers Dinho Batista, Rapha Mendonça and Rodrigo Rosner.
Maison Alexandrine is a store-studio and, among its goals, is to offer opportunities to new Brazilian talent. Besides establishing partnerships and opening its doors to newcomer designers, it has a school for artisans focusing on the fashion sector.
The brand was inspired by Madame de Pompadour, French women that was one of the greatest patrons in history and that fought for the work of artists and philosophers such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Denis Diderot to travel the world. Pompadour’s daughter was called Alexandrine Le Normant d’Etiolles and she was also an art-lover.
The brand’s headquarters is located at Jardim Paulistano district and reminds of a little palace. In Brazil, the brand produces fashion editorials for the country’s most important fashion magazines, and it’s now doing the same in the Middle East. The brand’s pieces were recently shot, at the São Paulo store, for the cover of Harper’s Bazar Arabia Interiors and Alexandra Fructuoso has been giving many interviews for the local news outlets.
Translated by Sérgio Kakitani