The StyleBistro Q&A: Alice Roi

(Photos: Courtesy of Alice Roi)
From Left: Designer Alice Roi, Actress Eliza Dushku wearing an Alice Roi design.

American designer Alice Roi is an unabashed girly girl—but not in the way you might think. Take her recent SS 14 collection. In place of, say, frilly floral-print lace dresses, the 2001 CFDA Perry Ellis Award for Womenswear nominee rolled out gauzy architectural separates finished with strategically placed (think Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour) rosebuds. Ultra-femme, yes; saccharine, never. “I was channeling the idea of romance and 3-D sexuality while trying to break the barrier of cliché romantic details,” Roi explains.

Subverting the expected is a longtime trademark for former ELLE staffer Roi, who has been featured everywhere from Harper's Bazaar to Numéro Russia since making her debut in 1999, and took time out in 2008 to focus on raising her son. Last year, she staged her comeback with a ’90s-indebted SS 13 presentation, and has been full-edgy-ready-to-wear-ahead ever since. We caught up with the Manhattan-based designer to chat about everything from hating on turquoise to moms who personify inanimate objects (yep, we know a few).

Looks from Alice Roi's SS 14 collection

You've mentioned that the '70s were a big influence on your SS 14 collection, how did that era come to catch your imagination?
I don’t typically like '70s style, so I tried to overcome the fear by recreating the era in my own vision, in a way that’s palatable to me. And the '70s played a big part in '90s fashion, which seems to be the era of choice at the moment.

Who has most influenced your own fashion sensibility and way of dressing?
My mother. She always looks for something different and thought-provoking in her clothes, yet she also looks particularly traditional—a hard balance to straddle. And she personifies fabric: for example, she’ll say, "Ooh this fabric is so light, it's like a whisper." She gives fashion importance and adds personalities and a tangible life to each detail. I love that.

We’ve heard that you had a fashion calling at a very young age, to the extent that you even staged your own runway-style shows at home. Do your current shows resemble those in any way?
Of course the current shows mimic the childhood play—nightgowns paired with winter coats and Tinkerbell nail polish is still hot!

Can you give us a hint as to what to expect of your next collection?
I'm very into the super dirty "up all night" raver—dirty ski jackets and all. The opposing mood [for the collection] is sharp '60s shapes and chic lady blouses.

Who is your muse of the moment?
Lisa Bonet and Lauryn Hill are currently two of my favorites.

True or False: Before you leave the house, you should do a quick take in the mirror and remove the thing you see first?
I don't believe in that, but I do think that if you look too one-dimensional you should add something that will completely change someone's initial thoughts about you; a hint that you are a fully baked person with diversified interests and experiences. For example, pearl earrings, a headband, and flats can tell you a lot about a person—a bit too much. But pearls, dyed blue-black hair, and Italian lizard sandals is a more intriguing pairing.

Who is your favorite up-and-coming designer?
Charles Harbison. I love his bold design decisions.

Which films are currently inspiring you from a fashion perspective?
Currently I'm into Singles, Angel Heart, La Haine, Boogie Nights, The Little Thief, Party Girl, and Kids.

What is a forbidden word in your studio?
Turquoise.

What is your all-time favorite look?
It may be sweat pants and heels worn with a woolen sweater. But also the high white boot looks from Chanel's FW 03 show.
I am Editor-at-Large at Lonny.
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