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Tastemakers: Markarian Designer Alexandra ONeill

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Photo: Matteo Prandoni / BFA.com

Alexandra ONeill named her Markarian label after a particularly radiant grouping of galaxies. Considering what she’s already had a brilliant year, this is a good fit for the brand, which combines ONeills love of whimsy, timelessness and grace.

On the opening day, ONeill dressed Dr. Jill Biden in a tailored ocean blue Markarian coat and dress in wool and tweed, embellished with pearls and Swarovski crystals, with a matching silk mask. Seen by millions of people across the country, the look was designed by a small team in New York City and hand finished by ONeill at their West Village studio in just a month. My team’s enthusiasm for the whole process was tangible, ONeill told The Cut. We were so honored that we were even considered for such a moment in history. Dr Bidens’ team were great to work with me and gave me direction but also creative freedom during the design.

This week, during New York Fashion Week, she launched her fall 2021 collection, inspired by Roman art, architecture and literature. What particularly inspired ONeill Metamorphoses by Ovid. Ovid paints vivid images of transformation triggered by challenges, conflict and turmoil, often suggesting that art and creation transcend suffering, the brand explained in the show’s notes.

We spoke with ONeill about one of her favorite vintage dresses, sweatpants and jewelry.

Which piece from a recent collection is most meaningful to you?
My favorite piece for spring 2021 is our Evora mirror-embellished strapless gown.

How to thank someone for a gift?
A handwritten thank you note!

What would you never wear?
Anything I didn’t feel comfortable with and 100% confident in.

What is your dream vacation?
Anywhere on a beach! I’m a beach bum.

What’s a good book on your coffee table right now?
I have a collection of Hut magazines on my coffee table right now, which I find as beautiful, if not better, than all the other coffee table books.

Last show that you watched excessively?
Rome on HBO.

What is your guilty pleasure?
A very nice old fashioned bourbon with added cherries.

Secret to organizing a good party?
Good lighting, good music and good friends.

What’s a trend that you like right now?
I hate to say it, but sweatpants. I just want to be cozy and warm right now, and the sweatpants feel like a hug.

One that you don’t understand?
Bucket hats.

Favorite restaurant in New York?
Il Cantinori feels right at home. This is my neighborhood corner that I have been going for 16 years and that I still love. My other favorite is the smile. They have the best cookies in the world there!

What’s the one thing you could eat everyday for the rest of your life?
Hu Kitchen Chocolate. I have a big sweet tooth.

What shoes do you wear most often?
Chanel kitten heels. I love their fabrics, details and heel height. I am a total shrimp and love that extra boost while feeling comfortable.

What are five things that bring you joy?

These beeswax rope candle holders that you can find at Nickey Kehoe in all colors. I love the texture of the rope. And who doesn’t love having a little candle light dinner?

My favorite silver cups from CeCe Barfield that you can use for drinking or pretty flower arrangements.

These super cozy and beautifully printed quilts I’ve been living in for the past few months from Indian women.

My Higher Dose infrared sauna blanket. It is so relaxing and feels like its own spa treatment from the comfort of your home. I also work out now that I don’t go to the gym.

Vintage jewelry. I love the craftsmanship and how fun and over the top the pieces were. Before COVID, I used to rummage through the Paris flea market while I was there for work. Now during COVID I watch 1stDibs.

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