The term eagle-eyed finds new meaning in curator and retail guru, Alex Eagle. Cool, collectable and oh, so chic, she even lives laterally - and this week she lets us into her carefully curated home and studio. Known for her eponymous store, Alex Eagle Studio, in Soho, and her collection of conceptual shopping experiences; The Store - in London, Oxfordshire and Berlin - it is clear upon meeting Alex in her natural habitat – a loft apartment above the busy streets of Soho – that there is a reason her opinion and her careful selections are some of the most coveted in the creative industries, that conveniently seem to unify in the spaces that she so carefully creates.
Whether it be the perfect placement of a plant pot, or the designing of her own products, the logic with which Alex navigates every decision is seemingly signified by the attention to detail that she applies to every space she is entrusted with, which - exemplified perfectly in the towering cactus in the corner that has been playfully reimagined as a hatstand - always seems to see her deconstruct the familiar to reimagine it as something different or to understand it in a different context.
Now the namesake designer of her own luxury clothing and homewares, that are utilitarian in intention “with an actual functionality to them” but still of the highest quality in nature, Alex is uninterested in designing clothes to the restraints and deadlines of the typical fashion calendar. Instead, she seeks out longevity and strives to find it in the highest quality design and materials, taking the time to ensure that every aspect is perfect before the item is offered for sale for an indefinite amount of time.
A professional at providing hospitality, this week we - and you should too - feel very welcome into Alex’s home and studio, as she shows us around and unpacks what it really is to curate your own luxurious living space.
Semaine: So, where did it all begin?
Alex: My mother used to say that she’d come into my room in the middle of the night, and I’d be moving all my furniture around with a very serious face, but I’d be very proud of myself and admiring my work, until the next week or the week after where I’d move it all around again. I always liked seeing things in a fresh way.
Often there’s no need to change things in life, you can work with what you have. If you buy less and just buy the things you genuinely love and live with nothing until you find the things you really really love, then it means that when you move it to a different position and into a different corner, you can enjoy it fresh from a new angle all over again. I can move one chair and a coffee table and a light and then feel incredibly smug and happy about it for days. No-one else will even notice, but it gives me so much joy.
Semaine: How did the concept of The Store originate?
Alex: I started to accidentally do what I’m doing now. Friends would come round and I’d style them for events, and they’d end up buying the coffee table or the mirror, or the photos on the wall, and while I didn’t really understand about margins, and just saw it as a really good opportunity to just sell something. I just recognised that this was something that I really enjoyed and that maybe it was something that people really liked, this idea of shopping for furniture or art while shopping for clothes or being inspired by glasses by having an actual drink, shopping from a home. So I moved my flat into a shop!
However, it was really important for me to feel like I wasn't creating a shop. I really wanted to make a place where you could come and hang out and feel like you were really welcome. There is no hard sell, you don’t have to buy something then or even the next day. When you’re not dealing with seasonal clothes that are going to be thrashed in price and put on sale, you’re not under the pressure to sell in such a fast and manic way. So we do find that people come and they browse and spend time and hang out, and most people that come do turn into clients, but it’s not all about that, we do want people to be able to come and spend time and enjoy without feeling the pressure to buy. Like the Store in Berlin–it is a place where you can come with your laptop, plug in and spend all day and then “oops!” you might just buy a Jil Sander cashmere coat. It’s not about buying something and consuming, it’s about being part of something and taking time.
Semaine: You talk about creating spaces of comfort and luxury that inspire the same feeling of being home, what does home mean to you?
Alex: I think home is where you feel really comfortable, where you can rest, a place that you can get to and it just feels like you don't have to worry about things. I don’t think home has to be full of familiar things, or make you feel nostalgia or make up your past. It’s having a few things that embellish your life.
There are obvious things that remind me of home, I’ve got this candle that I made with Jehanne de Biolley that if I light, I instantly feel transported as if I'm at home. If I put it on in a hotel I instantly feel very comforted by it. I always invest in really nice pillows and duvets - that's something that helps feel like home. But honestly, I know it’s cheesy, but for me, wherever my family are feels like home. I’m lucky to have a little cottage in the country which feels like a home for life and I love this loft and hope to be here forever, but really it’s wherever my family is.
Semaine: What is luxury to you?
Alex: Modern luxury is really light and space and having time to breathe. We tend to live in tiny places, get on packed tubes, real luxury is this feeling of space, and not being overwhelmed. I think this idea of an edit is something that people find really luxurious. I think one of the nicest things is treating yourself as if you were your favourite guest. Picking your favourite mug, a beautiful linen oversized napkin, a Venetian glass, you know, making a cup of tea look so pretty as if you had a guest coming. Enjoying that and taking the time to make the tea, and make it look pretty and enjoying that. I think that’s one of the biggest luxuries, giving yourself the respect and time, using the beautiful things you have for yourself as well as for a guest.
Semaine: You have a long list of collaborations with some of the most talented artisans and companies in the world, what is it that inspires you to collaborate and how has this shaped your own collection?
Alex: I thought I may as well go to the originators of these great things, rather than trying to emulate or copy them. They have decades, and in some cases over a hundred years, of experience in making. So, why not use their skills, why compete? And why not design something new as well that gets them seen in a new light, on a new platform to new clients?
My own collection has been evolving. And everything really works with the collaborations, whether it be home-ware or clothes. The collaborations are very much key to the core and the collectivity in the shop. My idea for the clothes was to create these cohesive building blocks for your wardrobe. I never wanted to feel under pressure to create seasonal fashion and create whole collections. So what has evolved and grown is a collection over the years, thinking about what the real key components are to our lives are and what we really can’t live without. That collection has been growing steadily over the years, we’ve just launched bespoke tailoring with a Savile Row tailor, making men and women’s bespoke suiting. It’s all created upon this idea of no-waste, something is created specifically for someone. We’re only using Loro Piana fabrics, form the chicest black and blues and pinstripes and vibrant lovely bright blues and mustard yellows, so I’m really keen on that feeling of buying something that lasts forever. Which is something that has been really at the core of what I believe of this idea of really genuinely less is more, buying one thing perfectly and letting it grow and adapt with you, this idea of real luxury.
I think I hope to transpire this vision of enjoying life and picking things that you really love, and in the end, things really become a part of your life’s DNA, be it a cup, or a candle. I think it’s this idea of not having to constantly consume but waiting and saving and buying something and really having it as a part of your life. I want to inspire people to enjoy luxury. Collecting things over time you can make a collection of something that lasts forever. I think it’s this idea of more or less, less is more.
Semaine: And finally, what is your best piece of advice to give?
Alex: Once you find something you love, make it your life - then everything you do is going towards creating something that will last and that belongs to you, and make it belong to you by researching it, and really reading around the subjects, so that you can develop your own original thought and your own ideas based on learning about it.
By Kezia Navey for Semaine.