A dear friend and one of our favorite designers in town Alexa Stark welcomed us into her home studio (her secondary studio is located in Backtalk on Mississippi Ave.). We have been long time fans of Alexa’s work hailing from New York and a graduate from Parsons The New School for Design in New York. She has made Portland her home and managed to create a phenomenal brand in only a few short years. Alexa Continually impresses us with her innovative designs, full of movement and intriguing silhouettes. Her designs are intended to be worn effortlessly which she makes easy with such simplicity balanced by poignant intention. We love her use of mixed denim and raw edges, each hand sewn piece is truly a work of art. Check out the great interview and photos of Alexa in her North Portland Studio. And also make sure to stop by Stand Up Comedy and UNA to check out her new spring/summer collection.
1. Why Portland? What was it that drew you to Portland or has kept you here?
My coming to Portland was purely accidental. It started with a cross country road trip with full intention to return home to NYC but then... I just stayed. I was drawn to the cities landscape and its small scale. NYC is so wonderful but it's overpopulated and stuck in its ways. I love how Portland can head into any direction. Especially in fashion.
2. What are your favorite things happening in Portland (design or otherwise)?
All the great boutiques we have here! Stand Up Comedy, Una, West End Select Shop, Alder and Co., Odessa, North of West, Backtalk, Francis May and Table of Contents all make my heart beat fast with excitement. I believe they have the best clothing and jewelry offered to the Portland community.
3. How did your brand start?
I cant really pin point when or how my brand started. I feel like every minute leading to the first full collection was part of it. So let's just say it all started in a life drawing class. From there I just started sewing, then went to Parsons and started selling my one of a kind designs my sophomore year there. I just kept going. It wasn't until 2012 that it really became a "brand" or that I started producing multiples of a garment.
4. What has been your biggest obstacle?
Using fashion as an artistic medium has always been a challenge because people want to categorize. You're either a fashion designer. Or an artist. If I could I would just make one garment and selling it like a painting. I'd even hang it on a wall and encourage viewers to step back and rub their chin and go hmm this is about transcendentalism during her blue period. Ha! My obstacle is the finding the balance of the two ideas.
5. What or who inspires your design?
My inspirations come to me randomly, sometimes it's a shape in the landscape or a fabric I touch. However over all, the end product is always designed with my mother in mind. She is an intelligent, well humored, Classic beauty. I always imagine her in my designs, if it doesn't seem fitting it doesn't get made.
6.What are your favorite things about Portland?
Our community of artists and makers. I have worked on some of the best collaborations here.
7. What is your favorite part of your studio?
My studio is detached from my home, and is strictly a creative space. I feel very connected to it and let it take me where I need to go. I often describe it as a boat. I would consider myself a bit of a work-a-holic and find solace in it, I love how my space keeps my focus.
8. Your favorite thing about your workspace?
I love my cutting table. I love to climb up on my work tables to cut and draw so having a nice sturdy table is so valuable to me.
9. Tell us two truths and a lie!
If I could wear running sneakers all day everyday I would. If I wasn't a fashion designer I'd be a mail lady. I can't lie.
10. 5 things you can’t live without.
My antique Saudi Arabian jewelry
Pencil and paper
My orange velvet throw pillows