Alexandra Popescu-York

On Saturday, February 13, Flying Solo held their semi annual series of fashion shows for NYFW.

Instead of strutting through Pier59 Studios, the largest independent designer platform created a runway atop a building in Manhattan. With skyscrapers and One World Trade as their backdrop, garments moved effortlessly through the wind and made it even more clear that New Yorkers need to be dressed in these one-of-a-kind outfits. 

The day long event featured the newest collections from over twenty emerging designers including Alexandra Popescu-York.

The Romanian born designer, who is now based in New York, debuted her sixteenth collection, “Hot Mess” in which she said it felt “awesome” to show her work at NYFW, “it was exactly what I needed right now to lift my spirits and other spirits around me!”

The entrepreneur revealed that this collection is very special to her because it’s the first one that she has made since the pandemic began, “As an artist, I tend to be very emotional and emphatic with the situation that the whole world is in, and the situation is not a “pink” one. The whole world is suffering and we cannot ignore it. 2020 was a terrible year for all humanity. My soul cries for everyone who died in this pandemic and there were times when I feared for my life or my family’s life. We, personally, were spared from this terrible virus that changed the world but till this pandemic is over I still feel the fear. These being said, I chose to raise up and fight in my own way, as an artist and designer, to FIGHT FEAR, to try to inspire myself and others for a better and beautiful future.”

Popescu-York named her 8 piece collection, “Hot Mess” because, “I think we all came out from a year of pandemic a little shaken up, a little afraid, a little bored, a little messed up but that doesn’t mean we cannot be A HOT Mess. I add a little irony and sense of humor in all my collection and I think these times need it the most.”

The designer stated that “The inspiration behind the collection was actually an uplifting message, a feeling of HOPE and a call to LIFE that I want to inspire, a much-needed brightness. It’s a message of hope and vitality-Hence the bright colors. I used fuchsia, bright pink, and purple!”

In regards to the message she hopes her “Hot Mess” collection will convey, she encourages people to, “Get up from the dormant state, shake the negativity that’s all around us, let the sun kiss you, smell the flowers, put on a beautiful dress or outfit, feel comfortable and enjoy your life to the fullest! “The message could be “A Smile from a friend and a pat on the back saying: It’s going to be OK!”

The pandemic has changed Popescu-York’s perception of the fashion industry as a whole as she began to question the need for high-end fashion, for couture, and for fashion and art in general, “The pandemic is comparable with the war times (not that I know them, fortunately). Other things were a priority rather than fashion. But still…we hope to survive the WAR of the pandemic and come back to creating beauty. The pandemic changed my perception of my brand in the sense that I am more inclined now to create ready-to-wear collections, more comfortable and wearable rather than couture pieces for Oscars and celebrities.”

The fashion designer, who has had her work featured in Vogue and other top fashion editorial publications, describes her namesake brand as “special, interesting and beautiful”.

It came to be that way after years of determination, creativity, and focus on her part. Since she was a child, Popescu-York had dreamed of being a fashion designer and artist as she remembers her mother showing her the love for art, “I started painting and I never stopped, I could not live without art.”

This passion drove Popescu-York to start training as an artist and fashion designer at a young age. 

She took her talents to the University of Arts in Bucharest where she graduated with a degree in fashion design and art and took additional courses at The Fashion Institute of Technology. She credits these opportunities as shaping her as a designer and said her education “raised me to be an independent designer, with unique qualities, to stand on my own, to believe in my talent. Only the best artists/designers would be able to graduate from that University at that time so I feel very proud of my accomplishments.”

Popescu-York also worked as a designer for other fashion companies in New York and Europe before coming up with a concept to create her own company in 2010. She named it Alexandra Art & Design and her mission was to cover all the services that include art and design, “At that time I was creating and developing brands, I was acting as an artist and designer in full bloom meaning that I felt I could do it all and at the same time raising a family. I was having my own painting exhibitions in New York City soon I created my own fashion brand Alexandra Popescu-York and I started having my own shows at Couture Fashion Week (around 2012). I continued having 2 major fashion shows a year but my company and brand couldn’t develop at the speed I wished it did.”

The fashion aficionado was inspired to create her own brand because she always wanted to be a great artist and designer, “I wanted to excel, I wanted to be the best or one of the greatest designers there are (although it’s impossible because there are so many iconic designers)! This is the spirit I grew up with. I am very competitive and I know I have what it takes to succeed because I have the talent and I dedicated all my life to it. I grew up idolizing the luxury fashion magazines where Yves Saint Laurent, Mc Queen, Dior, Tierry Mugler, and others showed their creations. I wanted to be that big! To fall into their footsteps! I wanted to create something that will be breathtaking, special, unique! There is so much beauty in a luxury couture fashion show! I wanted to create THAT! A magical world where you are the CREATOR!”

“I create art fashion, not fast fashion,” confirmed Popescu-York. 

Art is an important attribute to the designer’s brand because fashion is a branch of art, “To create fashion, to be a designer is not for everybody! You have to study so much, to be an intellectual, to be a real designer. I do not believe in “overnight” designers, in “instant” designers.   I see a lot of people who call themselves DESIGNERS when they never studied design in their life. Just because you make/buy “a t-shirt”, doesn’t mean that you are a designer! Just because you are a model doesn’t mean that you can be a designer, or just because you have some money and you can pay for certain things that don’t mean that you are a designer either.”

“To be a TRUE designer you need to be so many things before and one of them is to be a cultivated person, to be AN ARTIST, or to be familiar with ART concepts, harmony, and history at least.”

Popescu-York takes pride in her brand’s authenticity and the fact that each of her finished products is original as she elaborated, “that makes you special, that makes you different from other designers. Plus the creative process is the most expensive, takes the most time and it’s the most valuable. A lot of companies try to cheat the process in order to get faster production and cheaper prices.”

In addition to her sustainability efforts in which the designer said she creates limited collections and sometimes one-of-a-kind pieces, Popescu-York identified her unique selling point as her own creativity, “I don’t settle for less. I can create a variety of styles, collections,  create concepts, I have a vision and I have experience and I am very passionate about my work that it’s a very important part of my life. I am driven by passion and love for design not just making a buck. I think of concepts larger than life! A person should be majestic in all forms. When I used to work for other companies, the business person who was in charge used to try to strip my designs to make them cheaper and cheaper for production. I was against that! If I envision a design I will not change it to make it cheaper just for the sake of costing less. No! A design should be majestic! At least I will try to do so! I wanted to create avant-garde looks, to be a step forward into the game. I still try to create some outfits that are extravagant but I am trying to create a more wearable line so more people can enjoy my design.”

Popescu-York further explained her design process as she identified that it entails, vision boards, research, sketches, fabric development, first patterns, samples, fittings, last touches, show, and limited edition production, “It’s so much more complicated than it sounds.”

In terms of her collections, she says that after a show she spends time thinking, getting inspired, and feeling the vision of the new collection, “It is not an easy process. There is so much internal battle, so many questions, so much brainstorming before the main idea settles and becomes THE Concept of the new collection. That’s why you need to have a strong creative background, to be able to produce NEW Ideas, NEW products, to be an inventor over and over again.

This ties into her decision on what the clothing will be made of and look like, “I felt that we need vitality in our lives, hence the strong colors. I felt that we need elegant, yet comfortable clothes so that’s why I used 100 % silk and natural fabrics to create the comfort that the pandemic taught us that we like. Nowadays we want to feel comfortable no matter what. It’s hard to feel comfortable and beautiful, classy, elegant at the same time but here we are! Creating the impossible!”

While her Romanian roots brought the “true values and a sense of higher purpose” to her approach to design, Popescu-York also revealed New York City as an influence on her art, “I am a New Yorker. It’s a saying “You can feel that you are a New Yorker from the first day or never. I felt HOME from the first day (many years ago).”

She believes New Yorkers should wear her clothing because “New Yorkers value artists, new ideas, new designs. New Yorkers are split into a few categories but 2 main ones are: ‘New Yorkers- the pioneers, the crazy in love for fashion’ and the ‘I don’t care how I look, I rather wear my yoga pants everywhere -ones’. I say that I deserve that New Yorkers should wear my design because  I am the embodiment of a true artist story, I bring creativity, culture, and experience into my brand. You should wear my designs!”

“New York is the capital of Fashion, in my opinion, it’s the heart of fashion that beats and gives its trends to the world. New Yorkers are tough, talented, they work and play hard and they want the best!”

Overall she envisions representation of her brand to be by, “A person who doesn’t want to blend into the masses, a person who loves and understands art, a person who wants to be visible, a celebrity, a star of her/his own! A sophisticated person who is strong and powerful!”

Style Spotlight

Alexandra Popescu-York

CM: How would you describe your personal style? Is it similar to that of your brand? Is there a favorite collection or garment of yours that you have created?

APY: Yes, my personal style is my brand. Yes, some luxury dresses from the “Warrior Queen” collection-I will send you photos.

CM: What has been your greatest accomplishment and lesson you have learned through your brand? 

APY: Greatest accomplishment -to showcase for so long on the NYFW STAGE and I am not planning to stop.

Lessons: it’s never enough what you do, how much you work. There are always better-prepared people than yoU, there will always be someone richer than you, with more buying potential but DO NOT GIVE UP! You have your own path. Just keep going! Just keep going! 

CM: Has there been anything in the industry that you have had to overcome?

APY: Yes. There are still many things that I have to overcome and improve. Finances are not always easy to deal with. To get your investment return and to make a profit it’s very hard in the first years. Many people interested only in making money, small minds I would say, would give up. I have a bigger vision and I know I will succeed. I succeeded every year. There ups and down but there is only one way to go: UP!

CM: Do you have any advice for aspiring fashion designers?

APY: I do not like to give advice to aspiring fashion designers because I don’t want to cut their wings but many people and journalists ask me so I will say this: If you really cannot live without becoming an artist/designer then pursue this. You cannot just become a designer, it’s a long painful process and it’s not for the soft-hearted. You have to absolutely LOVE fashion and art and to be able to sacrifice for it. Sacrifice your time, your money, sometimes your health. You have to have very thick skin because there will be many haters and you will have to stand alone sometimes. You have to be very versatile, unstoppable. When one thing doesn’t work, you have to think of a different solution very fast. I would say to myself “If I invested the same amount of time to study and work to be a doctor or a lawyer, I would be very, very rich!” In fashion, it’s not the same. You are successful in many ways, sometimes you are financially rewarded on your true value sometimes not. But after all this, I consider myself a successful designer that succeeded in the toughest city, NEW YORK!

CM: You have already accomplished so much and have created a beautiful brand, what’s next for you and your brand? What else do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years?

APY: I want to be able to increase my sales, online and in stores. Soon I hope my collections will be available in Flying Solo online and on my website, Thank you for your interest in my work and I hope I convinced you and the readers, potential customers, that my brand it’s worth investing in! It’s fun, authentic and it’s valuable.

To Learn More Visit:

Alexandra Popescu-York Website

Alexandra Popescu-York Instagram

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