Alexander Berardi is the biggest thing you’ve never heard of. But this real-life-“Gossip Girl” hunk — at 24, he’s barely out of his Upper East Side high school — has an empire-in-waiting that would make Serena green with envy. The design prodigy’s Spring 2011 womenswear collection showcases feminine khaki shorts and nautical capes infused with French New Wave aesthetic. Express sat down with him for a quick chat at New York Fashion Week.
What inspired the Spring collection?
Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film “Breathless.” Jean Seberg’s striped dresses in the film inspired me to make those easy breezy designs. I also traveled to the Hamptons frequently during July and August, which always inspires designs, too, and the title of the collection is “Breathless Is a Tribe Called Hamptons.”
You’re so young. How did you achieve all this by age 25?
I’m actually 24.
Yeah, but I’d have to say it [required] a lot of hard work and really supportive friends and family. Friday was amazing. It was my first show at the tents. Everyone was already excited because it was the first show in Lincoln Center, but I have to say, I received a standing ovation. I’m not saying it to boast, but it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
You grew up on the Upper East Side. Would Blair Waldorf wear your clothes?
Of course! But I was born in Hurley, N.Y., and went to high school on the Upper East. A lot of my friends wear the designs, and they’ve moved all around because everyone is growing up. But I still have the studio on 73rd Street. The reason I keep it there is because a lot of our clients are in the area.
When did you know you wanted to become a designer?
I always wanted to be a designer. I’ve always loved drawing and I love how you can see an outfit come together. Originally, I went to Vanderbilt University, but I realized that I wanted to come back to the city and go to Parsons.
What advice do you give other young people on the road less traveled?
Follow your dreams. I think hard work and dedication matters. So does surrounding yourself with supportive people and ultimately believing in yourself. My collection reflected this. It’s about taking chances.
How would you describe your personal style?
Very similar to our woman’s [line]: classic, timeless and fun.
If clothes didn’t exist and people lived life in the buff, what would you be doing?
I would probably still be designing: boats or houses or something else that involves the way people live.
When will you showcase your designs in D.C.?
I just got off the phone with my showroom this week and we have a few meetings coming up. Washington has been a great cultural influence for me. I have a lot of friends there and I love the city, so hopefully soon.
Photo by Dan Lecca courtesy House of Berardi