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Sunroom Q+A: Alix of Bohemia

It's no secret we adore Alix of Bohemia. The line was founded by Alix Verley- Pietrafesa, who — after being brought up amid Italian textile artisans and French artists — created a line fusing mid-century bohemia, the freedom of the 1960s, and a dedication to beautiful and ornate craftsmanship.

We’re so excited to welcome more of Alix's extremely special, detail-driven pieces to Sunroom again this fall! 

Can you share more about your background and that path that's led to what you're doing now?

I grew up in Upstate New York, the eldest of four kids. My mother is a French artist and my father comes from seven generations of Italian textile makers and manufacturers. They’re both pretty sublime sartorialists, and I grew up in a house that was steeped in creativity and craft.

I went on to study art history at University in Scotland, where I wrote my thesis on The Bohemians of Post War Paris. I was so fascinated by how free these artists were, the expression in how they dressed, and their unconventional lifestyles and freedom in thought.

One day, I was touring a castle in Scotland with my Mother who pointed to a portrait of Anne of Bohemia. “Oh, thats you my little hippie child!” she said. ‘My Alix of Bohemia!” Needless to say, the name stayed with me.

I started making clothes in college for myself, and people started just buying them off my back. I never stopped making, and Bohemia bloomed into a business.

The next decade saw me living in London, Hong Kong, New York and Mallorca, collecting stories and stitching them into garments…it’s been a beautiful and organic thing.

Can you walk us through more of the design process behind one of your garments? How does an idea come to life?
It always starts with the material for me. I don’t sketch or plan really at all. I am constantly on the hunt for textiles, buttons, beads, and ribbons. Then when I set out to work, I select the elements I want to use and forms emerge.
I don’t talk much or think too hard when I am making. I tend to get lost in the process and trust my hands to do the work. I think the ‘not knowing’ and improvisation is where the magic happens.

You mention travel and discovery seep into your pieces — can you cite a specific example perhaps of how a place or experience has manifested in a garment?
Travel and discovery are always a huge source of my inspiration. I am often trying to recreate a feeling or a memory.
I did a series of pieced quilted jackets that were inspired by Mallorca sunsets, for example. I am endlessly inspired by India. The culture and colors are unlike any other … all the clichés are true! I collaborate with some incredible artists there, and their abilities always blow me away.
And sometimes, I admit, it’s totally unconscious. My father once remarked that one of my collections looked like all the clothing I wore as a child with my mother in France. He was completely right!

What are some of your biggest interdisciplinary inspirations, either in travel / art / film / music?
The original Bohemians inspire me with both their work and their non conformity to convention: Giacometti, Picasso, Francesco Clemente, Basquiat, the Bloomsbury Group, The Pre-Raphelites…

Helen Frankenthaller and Georgia O Keefe and Friday Kahlo and Kusama and Yoko Ono..

Keith Richards! Anita Pallenberg! Always.

My design ethos in 3 words:
Details are everything.

A few of my favorite (secret) spots in NYC are… (i.e. the places you love to visit, dine, experience that are more under the radar?)
Vita (coffee)
The Library (My favorite dive bar)

Five things I never travel without:
A Borsalino Hat
Watercolors, good pens and good paper
Leopard Velvet Coat
Kohl Eyeliner
My Grandfather’s Saint Christopher Medal on a chain

My favorite song right now:
Totally loving this 70’s African psychedelic Rock band, “WITCH” (We Intend to Cause Havoc)
Ebo Taylor and the Pelicans.

My wardrobe “workhorse” (what I wear on repeat, season after season):
Overalls! Always.
Cropped black skinny jeans (I like my ankles free!) and chelsea boots. A good boot keeps me grounded and takes me where I need to go.
My mantra or a favorite quote:
‘What matters most is the way you walk through the fire.’- Charles Bukowski