Situated in a quiet neighbourhood in São Paulo, Brazil, Maison Alexandrine’s lavish headquarters recall the opulence of French Neoclassical style. As soon as you open the door you’ll hear designer Alexandra Fructuoso’s warm voice emanating throughout the atelier, beckoning you into her wonderland of fashion and design.
The building, coloured in stylish white with ornate detailing around the door, recalls the magnificent palaces of 18th century France coupled with modern and contemporary designer pieces. Black and white flooring greets guests in the lobby, with golden sofas and several elegantly placed mannequins donning Maison Alexandrine’s timeless designs. Rays of light shine down from the dome inspired by Paris’s Grand Palais onto a stairway with rich black and gold balustrade and decadent crystal chandeliers to make this a couture experience like none other.
Maison Alexandrine’s rooftop inspired by sixties design, a place where a male visitor can go to read, drink or smoke a cigar while he waits for his wife. It is also a place where a bride’s father can wait while their daughter gets ready in the Bride’s Room for their big day; Armchairs from Loja Mac; Moroso Plastic Chairs; Model wears dress made of burgundy silk mousseline with short tubes embroidery.
Named after the daughter of one of the most powerful women in France, Madame de Pompadour, Maison Alexandrine is the first luxury fashion brand Patronage Maison in São Paulo. Through her meticulous attention to detail, gifted hand and passionate team, Alexandra brings to life a curated collection that merges the beauty of couture with inspirational finds from the worlds of art and design.
An interior view of Maison Alexandrine in São Paulo. Metalwork inspired by France on the XVIII century produced by Artferro; Dome inspired by the Grand Palais de Paris; Model wears dress made of burgundy silk mousseline with short tubes embroidery.
Established just two years ago after over 20 years working for her pharmaceutical business run jointly with her husband, Alexandra felt the desire for a change – to work creatively and with beauty. “It was time to do something that I really loved,” she says. “I had done a lot for healthcare in Brazil and I now wanted to do something different from just combatting disease.”
When Alexandra decided to make a change in her career she looked at three things she loved: fashion, architecture and decoration. “And I knew that fashion would be the one,” she says. “I’ve always loved history and I believe you must always tell a story,” she says, reminiscing over years studying in Europe visiting art exhibitions and museums. “When people look at Brazil they look at samba, football and often the beautiful models that we have, and I wanted to create a school for the many talented designers and artisans in the country and show it to the rest of the world,” says Alexandra. “Brazil has so many wonderful things to share and I thought I could show its many gifts through fashion.”
Bed and nightstand by Alexandra Fructuoso and Carla Jarjura; Pillows by Versace; Alexandra wears a black zipeline with sequin flowers embroidered dress.
Alexandra saw the establishment of her brand as a way to give back to her country and its people. She had attended ready-to-wear and couture shows and had a good eye for fashion. “Maison Alexandrine was built in a way that represents my personality – I always want the person that I am with to become better, more self-confident and more beautiful. I want to help other people,” she says. “I like to grow with people around me.”
Madame Pompadour has always been an influential historical figure for Alexandra. A member of the French court and the official chief mistress to Louis XV, she was very much running France at the time. “He was in love with her and really respected her and she was the patroness of so many people – philosophers, painters and sculptures – it’s so impressive what she did,” says Alexandra passionately. “She’s my inspiration. She did so much for so many people and I want to do the same. I want to make women feel strong, beautiful and great in every way because today we still see so many women who are still in the shadow of men and the shadow of themselves – they are afraid to show that they can do so many things.” Alexandra believes that while at times a culture doesn’t create opportunities for women, it is also the women themselves that need to foster their own opportunities.
The elevator inspired by the one at Galeries Lafayette; a model wears a red silk chiffon with sequins embroidery dress.
While France is the birthplace of Madame Pompadour, it is also one of today’s most eminent fashion capitals. “It’s a place of elegance and history – a place I wanted to connect to Maison Alexandrine,” she explains. “I was inspired by the Petit Trianon inside the Palais de Versailles because Louis XV built it through her [Madame Pompadour].” Maison Alexandrine is filled with 18th-century design and architectural references. From the gold touches on the elevator transporting clients up to a private meeting with Alexandra, to the ornate detailing in the dressing rooms, chequered marble floors, chandeliers and modern armchairs inspired by the French court, as well as the charming brass signage on each door alerting visitors to what lies inside – as with Les Salles des Enfants, a room for children to play while their mother tries on Alexandrine gowns – this is a true palace for beauty and pleasure.
Light from the dome energises and illuminates the Maison; French chandeliers from the era are identical to the ones at the Palace of Versailles; Metalwork chosen by Alexandra and developed in partnership with Artferro.
“Madame Pompadour was very elegant for her time and so when I idealised Maison Alexandrine, it was in thinking about a place where powerful women come to feel more complete,” she muses. “It’s also a place for women to come and feel better about themselves – more confident through my style.”
Alexandra worked on every detail at the atelier – every design piece and architectural construct was approved by her alone. She met with several architects but their work didn’t fit her vision. “I hired a constructor and an engineer and asked my branding consultants to help me on some points of the decoration but I was there everyday overseeing the marble, the painting and the boissière by myself,” she says. “I want my clients to have a complete fashion experience. This is why sometimes I have three to four people working on a dress and in different styles. I have a romantic style, minimalist style, sensual style and so many more, and it is by coming to Maison Alexandrine and appreciating the space and its design that you understand the brand.”
Mrs. Celia Santos, modeler working on the Trece dress.
Guests who enter into the atelier will immediately be surprised as it is like no other place in Brazil. “Some people will even come just to see the architecture and the design,” smiles Alexandra, saying how she regularly offers visitors a guided tour explaining the inspiration behind each room.
A businesswoman with an effervescent character and zest for life, Alexandra is also the mother of seven children. A step inside her São Paulo home reveals vibrant contemporary artwork and colourful design objects that Alexandra has sourced from around the world, an ambiance that exudes as much happiness as it does aesthetic refinement. Alexandra’s children pass nonchalantly in and out of the home’s various rooms graciously greeting guests. “I believe that it is a pleasure to live and to always enjoy the moment,” she says. “I believe in making people happy. I am a mother and I have many children and people ask me all the time ‘How can you manage?’ And it is not always easy to balance my work and the 40 people under me with my family life. But I balance it in a positive way.”
Isabella Guttmann and model Isabela Eign wear body and braided pants by Maison Alexandrine. Armchair made of polished brass tubes, with sheepskin cushions and center table made of wood, lined with polished brass plates.
She says how each morning she wakes up and while she is washing her face tells herself “Today will be a good day. You are going to do great things and you are going to make people happy.” And the day proceeds with grace and positivity. It’s about realising dreams from a place of love and kindness. “My family is at the top of everything. When my children call me I always answer so that they know that no matter what I am doing they are number one.”
One of Alexandra’s work philosophies is to do the difficult things first because these take the longest.“For me nothing is impossible,” she states. At 50 years old, Alexandra radiates the exuberance of a 25-year- old. At least four times during the week Alexandra goes to the gym to start the day with a fresh mind. “I have to take care of myself to offer the best to others,” she says. “I work out also for my mind. I need to feel calm to work in order to see clearly.”
Always elegant while embodying sensual silhouettes that offer strength and femininity, Maison Alexandrine’s sleek ensembles incorporate intricate stonework, geometric designs, intimate lace, feathers and beautifully embroidered sleeves. It’s a fairytale brand and one that attracts the likes of celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Carrie Underwood, Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian. Her fashion, like Alexandra’s personality, offers continuous moments of serene happiness.