Alix Verley-Pietrafesa exudes cool. She’s one of those girls, and she always has been.“I remember my first bikini,” she told me during our interview, “I was about seven years old......and I wouldn't take it off the entire summer. It was a DayGlo hot pink, bubble print two-piece by Body Glove. Remember Body Glove?... I accessorized with my mother's fuchsia Chanel lipstick and a long French-braid. I thought I was the coolest.”
Fast-forward about twenty years and, not surprisingly, the billowy beauty now runs her own clothing line, Alix of Bohemia. Alix is the oldest child of a large, eclectic European family, the product of six generations of Italian textile and design legacy on her father's side; her mother is a whimsical French ceramist. She designed her first collection while writing her dissertation on bohemian sculptor Alberto Giacometti, and describes her line as being “about ease, and embracing life:" perfectly in line with the undone bohemian glamour that Hamptoners adore.
Clothing by Alix of Bohemia, Sandals by K Jacques
Alix’s pieces "transition from the beach to cocktail hour, in incredible sumptuous textiles and vivid prints. [Her line is] the opposite of 'put together' high maintenance fashion-- [she] doesn't really believe in that. Undone is more interesting.” The promising young designer pairs an enviable eye for style with a detail-oriented work ethic, so each of her handmade pieces is a work of art. “Just because it isn't a couture gown,” she explains, “doesn't mean it shouldn't have luxurious details.”
Pieces from Alix's collection
So where does this chic St. Andrew’s alum spend her summers? “Give me a beach and I'm happy,” she says:
This year I discovered the beaches of Phuket, which are surreal…beautiful. I love the pristine wide beaches of Southampton, and I grew up summering on Block Island, which is a hippie's paradise.
Of her own summer style, Alix explains,
I’m not really one for the trends, but I think the classics our parents embraced in the 70's while rocking out in Saint Tropez and Nantucket [!!!] are becoming cool again. You can never go wrong with a Breton top, a great striped espadrille, (I hoard them) a woven bag and K Jacques sandals. Being trendy is too time consuming when it's glorious out.
Amen to that. Read on for Alix's summer picks.
"I am the worst with sunglasses, I always lose them. But I love my Persols, and I don't care that everyone has them. They are the best, and remind me of my mother in the 80's."
Best lazy-summer’s day activity?
"Nothing is better than a Hamptons house packed full with friends and family, a big breakfast with fresh croissants from Golden Pear and icy coffee. And on to bike riding to Cooper beach! I always re-read Catcher in the Rye, and back issues of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker during summer months. I love shell collecting and stringing them on leather cord."
Best summer's evening activity?
"It has to be barbecuing seafood and evening swimming, after which my siblings and I love a good kitchen disco… we dance to David Bowie, the Clash and the Beatles. Oh, and a trip to Schmidt's in Southampton. I love their giant tomatoes and peonies."
What would you be wearing if you caught you…By the pool in Water Mill?
"I have an obsession with Emilio Pucci bikinis. They are tiny and have no support, but come in the most fabulous prints ever! I cover up with my 'Teddy' Lace Harem pants. They are a sexy alternative to those Thai fisherman pants that everyone loves."
…On the beach in Montauk?
"My vintage Pucci beach cover-up that my grandmother gave me. It's full-length and turquoise and billowing and fabulous, and it begs to be worn with my favorite crochet bikini."
…On the club circuit in East Hampton?
"One of my fringed waistcoats, that match with everything
and are totally unusual. Maybe with a silk harem pant and some giant vintage earrings. And flats. I always wear flats in the summer and love little leather moccasins as an alternative to sandals or espadrilles (they get better as the summer goes on, I love it when they fall apart a little bit)."
…During cocktail hour at Surf Lodge?
"My 'Giovanna dress'...I adapted this dress from a vintage Givenchy pattern and made it in Swiss cotton so it's as light as a feather. It literally snaps over your bikini and voila! Talitha Getty. Little gold flip-flops (J.Crew beach makes the best ones) and my big turquoise cocktail ring."
[Left: Alix in her 'Giovanna' dress with her dog, Bear]
To me, summer is…
"Full of promise."
Alix of Bohemia produces small runs of garments and custom commissions by appointment. She currently shows in Hong Kong, London, New York and the Hamptons.
[All photos via Alix Verley-Pietrafesa]