Alexandra Cantacuzene, 41, was born into a world of creativity and style. Her mother worked in fashion and perfume, her grandmother was a painter, and her grandfather owned art galleries in London and South Africa. With artistic talent coursing through the generations, and an upbringing that took her around the world, Alexandra was equipped with the open mind and cultural perspective she needed to follow her own path. Now, she’s an interior architect and partner at AAC-Interiors in Dubai, and works on design projects for a wealth of international clients.
Over the years, French-born Alexandra’s style mirrored her multi-cultural upbringing – “I was curious, not afraid to change radically and had a bit of a rebel attitude” – morphing more recently into something that plays more seamlessly to her sense of self and lifestyle. “I experimented with different styles until I found one which corresponded and complemented the best of my personality,” she says.
A mum of three boys (Maxime, 11, Hadrien, nine, and Alexis, six) Alexandra believes style is a way of “saying who you are without having to speak,” and a woman’s sartorial success can be pinned down to “appropriation” and “having confidence.” Two attributes she exudes in abundance, thanks to her mother’s sound advice. “She told me, ‘You’ll never have the chance to make a first impression twice, so always be proud of who you are, be confident in terms of style and know what to wear on the right occasion.’”
Alexandra describes her own monochromatic uniform as “chic but also comfortable and practical,” ramping up the glamour in the evenings to show off her “feminine side with more make-up and colourful dresses.” She also seldom has time to shop, which suits her impulse buying ways. “It must be love at first sight feeling” with pieces, she says. “I love Victoria Beckham’s clean minimal suits, Chloé for a floaty, feminine and timeless look, and Giambattista Valli for his modern elegance.” She also eschews online shopping in favour of the “contact with fabrics and the whole experience of trying things on.”
Alexandra’s ultimate fashion moment was in 1995 when “I was invited to the Bal de la Rose in Monaco.” On that occasion, and with the help of my mother’s connections, Christian Dior let me borrow an haute couture dress, which was spectacular,” she recalls, describing a flawless ivory gown with a huge magnolia embroidered on the shoulder. “I felt so special that evening.”
Alexandra Cantacuzene wears Tibi top and 3.1 Phillip Lim at Bloomingdale’s Dubai. Bil Arabi earrings, her own.
Photography: Richard Hall. Styling: Teresa Karpinska. Words: Elaine Lloyd-Jones. Hair And Make-Up: Blowout&Go. With Thanks To Alserkal Avenue.