Alexandra Suhner Isenberg
Rebecca Tay | Date posted: January 13th, 2012
Whether you agree or not, there’s no denying that the opinions on Searching for Style are always well substantiated—which is exactly what we love about Alexandra Suhner Isenberg (that, and her signature Chanel frames). The former designer, who spent more than 10 years in Europe working for the likes of Sonia Rykiel and Burberry, is now back in Vancouver, lecturing, writing for Vitamin Daily, and, of course, sharing her opinions on her own blog.
LoveSewing: As someone who has worked on both the design side and, now, on the media side, what do you think are the biggest misunderstandings each has about the other?
Alexandra Suhner Isenberg: “I think the media misunderstands the design process and the time and effort involved in putting together a collection. The media are constantly clamoring for something new; however, they forget that a designer cannot come up with new ideas all the time. I am a big believer in cutting down the number of collections to two a year (and maybe with a small resort collection), but editors like Anna Wintour encourage designers to show four times a year, which I think is ridiculous.
“Designers often fail to understand that media cannot simply write about something because they like it. A magazine/blog/website article needs to have a story and/or an angle. I hate to upset people, but sometimes I can’t feature something because it doesn’t work with our upcoming pieces.”
LS: What were your roles at Sonia Rykiel and at Burberry?
ASI: “I was an assistant designer at Sonia Rykiel (although I started as an intern) and at Burberry, I redeveloped my Central St. Martins MA graduate collection for their London line. My other roles in London were freelance, working as a trend forecaster for various agencies (The Future Laboratory, Nelly Rodi, Promostyl) and as a consultant for some small brands. I also lectured at Central St. Martins and a few other schools.”
LS: What prompted you to start Searching for Style?
ASI: “When I moved back to Vancouver, I knew there wasn’t going to be a lot of jobs for me, and that I’d have to make my own job. Several people suggested I start a blog, so I did, and it turned out to be a lot fun than I thought.”
LS: Who did you expect would be your audience? Has this turned out differently?
ASI: “I hadn’t really thought too much about my audience at the start (I wasn’t even sure what the blog was going to be like when I started) but as it developed its style, the readership started to grow. My readers are people who like to hear my opinion (whether they agree or disagree) and those who are trying to break into the fashion industry, as I give a lot of advice in this area. I am really working on attracting more [of these] readers, as I have a lot of valuable advice to share.”
LS: What do you believe is the biggest misconception about running a fashion website?
ASI: “That you just need good content. Sure, that is very important, but you also need to market the blog, spend a lot of time on social media, understand SEO, network like crazy.”
LS: Now that fashion sites and blogs have been around for some time, what do you think is the biggest thing that distinguishes online media from print?
ASI: “Online media is more immediate, and therefore more relevant in many cases. I enjoy fashion print media for images (which never look as stunning online) and for longer articles. In print, you can spend more time working on a piece, whereas online, it seems you can’t spend more than a few days writing something.”