Trained at Paris fashion house Mugler before enrolling into MA Fashion course at CSM, Danish designer Alecsander Rothschild challenges the eye and mind. His provoking silhouettes and daring use of material such as latex resonate with his desire to question (gender) stereotypes.
As an homage to his artists family and his admiration for French-Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, Rothschild’s Bukarest celebrates clean, geometrical lines. In the appearance of becoming a sculpture itself, the sandal stretches the definition of art and design.
Bukarest by Alecsander Rothschild
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For this collaboration with Birkenstock, your inspiration came from Brancusi – a classic reference. What was it that fascinated you about his forms and work?

I decided on working with Brancusi as reference because I really liked the simplicity of his work. One of his principals when creating was “simplicity as principal” - I thought this was very much in line with Birkenstock’s idea of their sandals. Upon further research into Brancusi, you find all these minor details that are quite contradictory, such as a smooth surface but somewhere the sculptures have zigzag forced into the marble or brass, which becomes a super contrast to what you see overall when first looking. This became the foundation for my idea for my sandals.

What were the things that surprised and intrigued you most during your explorations into the Birkenstock history and archive?

When starting this project, I really didn’t know that much about Birkenstock as a whole, so I was actually super surprised about finding out Birkenstock has existed since 1774. I was also intrigued to learn that Birkenstock was the first to ever put shape into the in-sole of shoes - before all shoes were completely flat inside - so I was surprised how monumental the footbed and Birkenstock are in the history of fashion as a whole.

You grew up amongst a family of artists. How did this shape you?

I think it shaped me a lot. My mom was a knitwear designer when I was growing up and I think that definitely shaped me as she brought me along for everything! Later, she turned to painting, like the rest of my family! Because of having a creative family, I’ve always been allowed to try whatever I wanted. I didn’t grow up with the pressure of delivering on an academic level. They encouraged me to go alternative ways in life, which resulted in me quitting high school to start studying tailoring instead.

You are a Danish designer. Danish design has such a celebrated world reputation. Would you say this heritage and history informs you work?

To be honest I think it’s informed by me knowing from the beginning of starting to create, that I absolutely didn’t want to a minimalist. I think a lot of my taste in culture generally has been affected by wanting to rebel against the notion of beauty in that sense.

And how is your current work shaped by being in London and at Central Saint Martins?

I think CSM has allowed me to be even more free in my approach to research. It’s like arriving at such a creative hub compared to anywhere else I’ve ever been, it feels more liberating because the tutors are, I would say, experts on subversion and very clearly understand and appreciate the absurd, bad taste and sex.

What role does flamboyance play within your work?

For me, flamboyance is defiance. To be flamboyant regardless of gender expression is defiance. Being flamboyant is obviously read as very gay for men usually, but I think the idea of flamboyance translates into anyway of dressing, by anyone, no matter how you identify; it’s simply to go all the way with your idea of glamour.

You have a background in tailoring. What role does structure and shape play in your work, and how do you balance this with your obvious interest in surface embellishment and decoration?

For me, studying tailoring definitely affects the way I appreciate and approach garments. I love the work that goes into making structured garments. When I have the time to really put in that effort it becomes very meditative for me. I can sit a sew and hand sew for hours without stopping. And I think that’s where my love of embellishment also come into the picture; I really like the meditative aspect of embroideries. I think the way I approach even making a dress comes from my idea of tailoring, so there is always structure somehow even if there are draped elements.

How did you decide on the colour palette for your shoe?

I wanted to use the colours from Brancusi’s world, with a harsh contrast like metallic silver.

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