“Alexander was Chief
Specialist in a technical facility before ever thinking about fashion design.
Alexander told me "Throughout all of my 29 years, I have been
carried away by almost innumerable things: history, literature, painting, ethnography,
design, "serious" cinematography, even karate. Thanks to all that
stuff, my poor cerebrum has been transformed into a kaleidoscope."
So, how did Alexander begin designing clothing? It was just one more
turn of the kaleidoscope. "One time, my wife was preparing to knit herself
a new dress. She got a German knitting magazine called "Verena", and
tried to choose something attractive. When I started to look at the
illustrations, I suddenly discovered that all the images I pored over were
strangely familiar to me. And I was reminded that a few days before, I had been
turning over the pages of a huge book dedicated to the history of photography
all over the world. One picture among others was one of the first color photos,
showing an Alps resort around 1912. There were
so many happy, rosy-faced skiers, of both sexes, standing under snowy spruces,
dressed in sweaters much like those I found in Verena. Men were decorated with
manly crosses, rhomboid shapes, snow-flakes, with reindeers galloping from right
shoulder to left. Women shamelessly tried to tempt men with flowers (of species
unknown even to inveterate botanists), satin-stitched on their shoulders and
"I was literally amazed! As time has passed through the ages,
everything in our everyday world has evolved - from town hall to iron, from
blast furnace to button. Only the design of knitwear has resisted change! For
me it turned out to be a real disclosure - that nowhere was there such a
conservative sphere of creative activity as the sphere of knitting design. And
I could not help fighting against such a standstill, and keep devoutly fighting
up to the current moment."
Alexander's design philosophy is what he describes as "a wee bit of
a shock." His creations lie somewhere between that term "wee
bit" and his early tendency to shock people.
"I am already beyond that initial creative period when shocking
people is significant for an artist. On the other hand, I get irritated by
traditions and any conservatism in one's creativeness. In other words, I am
trying to overthrow the tedious dogmas of knitting, while avoiding the shocking
"avant-garde" in my work.
And occupying an intermediate space like this, I feel there more freedom
than anywhere else in this world.
Still, I pay respect to minimalists, though minimalism is rather tedious
too: two sleeves, two lapels, the "singing lines of cutting", and
that's all. Exhausting!"
Not one to forget his engineering expertise, Alexander has invented a
new kind of fastener. You can see it in many of the photographs. It's kind of a
giant cloth zipper. Reinforced knit fabric loops replace traditional fasteners,
and the wearer slips one loop into another to "zip up" a coat, dress,
or whatever. Unfastening is swift. To use Alexander's catch phrase,
"Unconnecting is lightning".”