Christabel MacGreevy talks to creative director Alex Eagle about her two new shops: The Store x SOHO House, Berlin & ALEX EAGLE, London, getting the inside scoop as both her friend and the London store’s part-time shop girl.
The Store is a new 30,000 square foot retail and concept workspace spread across the ground floor of Berlin’s Soho House. A vast industrial interior contrasts with the colour and design of a myriad luxury items: quirky contemporary furniture, Prism eyewear and a truly great selection of the best of contemporary fashion. Top picks on the clothes-front include Proenza, Yamamoto, Demeulemeester, Trager Delaney and Alexander Wang. I clocked all of this during my trip out to The Store as a brand ambassador, a clever pre-opening scheme designed by Alex to get friends on board with the development of the project by inviting them as guests to shop and explore the space.
Both a huge plus for the hotel guests, and open to the passing public, The Store x Soho House contains a café, a barber, a nail bar, and a juice press. Recline with your head of hair in the care of the excellent Barber & Parlour before trotting across the room to The Store Kitchen for a wholesome and tasty organic plate. There is even a workstation, complete with laptop plugs in the beautiful New Tendency tables, welcoming visitors to settle down and pass some time. The space is decorated with velvet sofas, a well-curated selection of art books and unusual magazines, and various greenery including large potted cactuses. Freshly cut flowers and plant arrangements are available, care of Mary Lennox Florist.
On Walton street in London, the Alex Eagle lifestyle boutique is located in a three-storey London terraced house, beautifully conceived by interior designer Gianni Alen Buckley. Visitors are greeted on entrance by an enormous chandelier and a window display containing a rotating exhibition space known as WOW (for the Window on Walton). This storefront project space is dedicated to showcasing work by international artists that they feel do not have a strong enough presence in London, and the installations change every 2 months.
The vibe is cool, unfussy and clean; Alex Eagle has personally collaborated with Jermyn St menswear brand New and Lingwood to make smoking jackets, overcoats, brogues and slippers to the size and fit of womenswear. She says, “I wanted to translate the attitude men have to shopping. They invest in high-quality basics and only buy something new when it needs to be replaced.” You can also find Pallas two-piece girls’ suits, and pieces by Catherine Quin and Christophe Lemaire. Other Alex Eagle collaborations include one with Swaine Adeney Brigg, the luxury leather luggage maker, and the Venetian glasswear brand Giberto.
Having worked in the fashion industry for the last decade, Alex has become known as a tastemaker and keen proponent of new brands, artists and ideas. All of this is visible in the charm, quirks and aesthetic success of The Store, Berlin and ALEX EAGLE, London.
SUITCASE Magazine: Who are some of your favourite picks, Alex?
Alex Eagle: I think Phoebe English is one of London’s most exciting talents right now. Mauli Rituals is an Indian organic wellbeing line that has a delicious mixture of things for the bath that balance and calm the skin. I love the sacred union scent and dry oil for its comforting and healing benefits. Sam McCoach, designer of Le Kilt, makes beautiful modern interpretations of the classic Scottish kilt, which have become part of my personal uniform.
SM: What are you reading at the moment?
AE: I love reading biographies. I just finished re-reading Peggy Guggenheim’s Mistress of Modernism by Mary Dearborn. If I’m going to read a book, I like to learn something in the process.
SM: What else do you get up to in Berlin?
AE: The Boros Bunker is a great place to soak up the history of the city with an incredible contemporary art collection. And I love wandering around the streets near The Store – Auguststrasse and Linienstrasse have great galleries, shops and restaurants.
SM: London is your home, what do you like to do there?
AE: The RA is always worth visiting; the current Rubens show is great. Pop via Pace Gallery next door as they always have something great on. The Vinyl Factory space has great shows so I always check in and see what’s going on there.
SM: What can we expect to come from ALEX EAGLE, the brand? What have been your inspirations for this line?
AE: My own brand will be launching later this year. The concept for the line was about stripping things back, creating a bit of order. I love Mondrian’s clean lines, Alexander Calder and Barbara Hepworth for her feminine interpretation of that. And then you have someone like Amelia Earhart – that period wasn’t just about women dressing like men; they were doing things like men, taking charge.
Savile Row and Jermyn Street are the originators of menswear, and I love the architecture of the actual street, the mix of old traditions and new tailors that have sprung up. That quintessentially English feeling, mixed with cities like Berlin and London where I have stores.
SM: Who have been your style icons or figures in literature/ history you reference when looking for ideas? AE: Jil Sander and Joseph in the 90s, Sofia Coppola, the original Calvin Klein. A time when a white shirt and black trousers was enough. It’s going back to age-old classic menswear, which has been the same for decades and decades.
SM: How would you describe the ‘Alex Eagle woman’ ?
AE: The line is supposed to be for every woman. My boyfriend’s sister who is a lawyer has been wearing it, and so has his daughter Liberty who is 13. It’s for all ages. It’s about simplicity and ease. I wanted something that appeals to a classic dresser whether she is a fashion woman or a businesswoman, or both. Something to pick your kids up in, work in and travel in.
SM: What do you look for in your favourite garments that you have instilled in the ethos of your clothes line?
AE: The focus is on fit, fabric and being timeless. I want to make the cohesive building blocks for a working wardrobe. Simplicity. Sleek. Pared back. Less is more. Ultimately, the chicest woman looks like she has just thrown something on, and we are trying to do that work for her.
Alex Eagle is also a hot place to pick up pieces of fine art. The walls are adorned with Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn photographs as well as some casually placed plates by Picasso. Design classics, such as a 1970s pink illuminating Ettore Sottsass mirror is placed in a fitting room, and contemporary furniture by Amma Studios and Andrianna Shamaris deck the floor.
SM: A few final questions…Your star sign and what you think that supposedly says about you.
AE: Gemini. There’s two of me.
SM: Guilty pleasure?
AE: Nancy Mitford and Mad Men.
SM: Did you watch 50 Shades of Gray?
AE: No, life is too short.
SM: Favourite film?
AE: The Talented Mr. Ripley. I love a stylish period drama, a thriller and a visual feast. This is all three.
SM: What music are you listening to today?
AE: I unwind to Nina Simone. I love blues.
SM: Best place you have travelled to recently?
AE: Italy, time and time again. From the history of Venice to the glamour of Rome, the lakes of the north to the rustic countryside of Sicily and Tuscany.