In the hustle and bustle of the streets of any city or town, artists are quietly working and honing the skills of their craft. A true creator never stops challenging themselves and improving their art. We are carving out a small corner of the internet to showcase these artists, dreamers, designers, and entrepreneurs. This month, we are strolling to the neighborhood of Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York. Tucked away in the tree lined streets of this charming area, is the Christine Alcalay Boutique and Atelier.
Looking from the outside into the shop windows, you’ll notice refined, high-end elegant clothing. What you don’t see is what it took Christine Alcalay to reach this point in her career. Here is a look at a collaboration with Christine we did to publish her work and art titled, “Fashioning Pages of Life”. Here is her story and the stunning results.
The collaboration between you and Printique for the book “Fashioning Pages Of Life” is intriguing. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind it and how the concept of merging fashion and artisan quality came about?
The collaboration between myself and Printique for “Fashioning Pages of Life” stems from the belief that fashion and memories share a language. This partnership was inspired by the idea that just as clothing designs tell stories, a photo book can capture moments that weave into our narratives.
Could you share with us the journey that led you to become a fashion designer and establish your own brand?
Fashion has been a constant presence in my life from the very beginning. It all started when my mom and I moved to a new country, Vietnam left behind. My mom, in her search to secure a future for us, turned to fashion as a means of livelihood. Those early days were marked by crafting clothes not just as a choice, but as a necessity.
Growing up, it was like fashion was part of our everyday routine. Clothes, threads and fabric mounds surrounded us in every way, like a silent companion. But as I grew, I began to see it differently. It wasn’t just about the clothes anymore; it was about the stories these garments held. They weren’t just clothes; they were our identity, our assurance of what lay ahead and a future.
That realization set me on a path. I felt this urge to delve into the world of fashion, to understand it on a deeper level. I wanted to create pieces that didn’t just dress people but had a way of transforming them – emotionally and physically. That’s when I started my own collection, named after me. It draws inspiration from iconic women who’ve shaped history, tailored for the trailblazing women of today and tomorrow.
It’s this belief I carry – that clothes can be a lot more than we give them credit for. They have this incredible power to empower, to shape someone’s confidence and outlook. I design for that woman who walks into a room and instantly captures attention, not just because of what she’s wearing, but because of how she carries herself.
What’s even more interesting is how my relationship with clothing evolved. Instead of just creating outfits, I realized I had a story to tell. So, I began to infuse my journey, my identity as a woman, into every piece I design. It’s like these clothes became my medium for sharing my experiences and perspectives. It’s a way of expressing my voice and allowing others to do the same through what they wear.
Your website mentions your multicultural background. How has your diverse heritage influenced your design aesthetic and creative process?
Growing up surrounded by a rich blend of cultural influences, I’ve learned to deeply appreciate the beauty and distinctiveness that each tradition brings. I draw from a wellspring of inspiration that ranges from the vibrant colors of my Vietnamese heritage to the intricate patterns that reflect my history. So much of my story and inspiration is about becoming an American, a New Yorker and all of the influences of the city mixed with my heritage.
Having a French husband and being part of a multicultural family adds another layer of depth to my creative process. The interplay of cultures within my own home serves as a constant reminder that beauty can emerge from the fusion of traditions and serve as a powerful driving force in my creative journey. They remind me that the world of design is boundless with inspiration.
Both your brand and Printique emphasize the importance of individuality and creativity. Can you share how this synergy of values played a role in shaping the content and visual aesthetics of “Fashioning Pages Of Life” to create a meaningful experience for our combined community?
The alignment of values between my brand and Printique has been instrumental in shaping the essence of “Fashioning Pages Of Life.” Both of our entities hold individuality and creativity in high regard, and this shared ethos has beautifully influenced the content and visual aesthetics of the project.
We’re not just creating for ourselves; we’re creating for those who appreciate the beauty of creativity and embrace their unique identities. This synergy has driven us to ensure that “Fashioning Pages Of Life” transcends being just a book. It’s a conduit that connects like-minded individuals who share a passion for creativity, personal narratives, and the celebration of uniqueness.
The synergy of our values has breathed life into “Fashioning Pages Of Life.” By intertwining individuality and creativity. This not only showcases fashion but also tells stories – stories that resonate deeply with our collective community, stories that remind us of the power of authenticity, and stories that celebrate the art of being uniquely ourselves.
Collaboration often brings out new perspectives and insights. In what ways did working with Printique on this project contribute to your creative process and perhaps even offer fresh insights into your own body of work as a fashion designer?
My experience with collaborations has always been that it converges minds, sparking fresh insights and unconventional approaches. The Printique team’s perspectives have led to innovative design elements that now thread through my future work. This project’s emotional journey has made me reexamine my years of work, and the collaboration’s transformative impact has added new dimensions to my designs and helping me create a physical form of what were just images in a hard drive.
Sustainability and ethical practices have become increasingly important in the fashion industry. How do these values play a role in your brand’s approach to design and production?
Why sustainability isn’t just a trend for us – it’s ingrained in our core. It all began with my immersion in the garment industry, alongside my mother, and my educational in fashion.
The onset of the pandemic caused a profound pause, a moment of reflection on the nature of my creations. I began crafting masks from leftover fabric during the critical shortage of PPE, a time that pushed me to create with intention and purpose. Amidst challenges, my commitment to crafting small-batch designs with deep meaning remained unwavering.
Unlike the mainstream brands that opt for shortcuts and outsourced labor, our ethos is grounded in fair compensation. While our pieces might carry a slightly higher price point, it’s a testament to our dedication to paying all contributors fairly, including the skilled artisans and creative minds shaping each creation. Sustainability is more than a catchphrase – it’s woven into every step of our process, from sourcing materials from small, sustainable mills globally to our resourceful approach to excess fabric.
When it comes to bringing everything together, we cherish an intimate approach. Our collaboration with New York City factories, known for their lower minimums, means that each piece receives a personal touch. We’ve come a long way, and believe me, we’re just getting started. We’re not just crafting garments; we’re rewriting the narrative, where style meets purpose and sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. When you’re small, sustainable is a way of business.
The fashion industry has gone through significant changes in recent years, including the rise of e-commerce and social media. How have these changes affected your brand and how you engage with your audience?
I love technology and social media is fun! I’ve found a playground for embracing challenges and sharing my passion. Change isn’t a roadblock; it’s an opportunity to evolve and innovate. These platforms provide a dynamic canvas where ‘m constantly pushed to adapt and creatively express my vision. I see each platform as an opportunity push boundaries and find fresh ways to tell and share my individual story and perspective.
Looking back on your career, are there any particular collections or designs that hold a special place in your heart? If so, what makes them stand out?
Salt of the Earth,” a collection that emerged during the lockdown period. It was a time when uncertainty hung in the air, prompting me to channel my energy differently. Interestingly, this collection marked my debut as a main character in our campaign and storytelling, alongside my daughter. The silence that enveloped those days was profound, allowing me to truly hear my own thoughts and inner voice. The result were some of the most powerful images we’ve ever created. For the first time, I was the woman that I designed for.
As a successful fashion designer, you’ve likely encountered both achievements and challenges. Can you share a pivotal moment or experience that shaped your perspective on your career?
A pivotal moment that truly shifted my perspective was when I realized that my most impactful designs weren’t meant for an imaginary woman. Instead, I discovered that designing for the women who inspire me, including those I encounter daily, was where my true creative power lay.
Everything changed when I put myself into the equation. I became the woman I design for, reaching the ideal of those I’ve always admired. This profound shift redefined my approach, making my designs deeply personal and empathetic. Each piece now celebrates the nuances of womanhood, reflecting strength, beauty, and individuality. It’s not just about aesthetics; it’s about empowering and amplifying the voices of the women who wear my creations.
This realization transformed my work in a meaningful way that felt real, unforced and unapologetically me.
Fashion can be a powerful form of storytelling. Are there any narratives or messages you consistently try to convey through your collections?
In my collections, there’s a consistent narrative of the realization that the clothes we wear have the incredible power to shape our emotions and, subsequently, influence how we navigate our world.
My namesake collection is a testament to this philosophy. It draws inspiration from both the iconic women who have left their mark on history and those who continue to do so in the present. Fashion can be a transformative tool for the wearer. I craft clothing not just for the sake of aesthetics, but to empower and elevate the stories of the women who choose them.
The Christine Alcalay woman is a force to be reckoned with.
The message is always about a how remarkable woman embrace their own uniqueness, fully comprehending that she leaves an indelible mark on the world – just as the world and her past have shaped her. She’s bold, unforgettable, and unapologetically herself. This is the essence of the women I design for – those who possess stories to share, who fearlessly embrace self-expression, and use fashion as a tool. My designs are dedicated to amplifying their voices, celebrating their individuality, and empowering them to embrace their narratives with confidence and grace.
We want to thank Christine for opening her shop, her creativity and her vision with Printique. Together, we fashioned a 12 x12 Hardcover Photo book with Luster pages for Christine titled “Fashioning Pages of Life with Christine Alcalay.” You can see the the final photo book HERE. We also printed a 24×30 Metal Print with a white, satin finish to hang in her boutique. And finally, we printed some images on silver halide luster paper photo prints to pin to her vision board.
If you are an artist or know an artist and would like to be collaborate with Printique, drop an email to email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.