It's February 2020 and the world has yet to be upended by the coronavirus pandemic. While designers in the throes of New York Fashion Week are sending stone-faced models down the runway, Susan Alexandra (née Korn) is staging a musical. There's lively dancing, acting, and singing, peppered by a chorus of laughs from the usually stoic audience. Both on stage and in the crowd, you can see a spattering of her famous beaded bags: in rainbow checkered print, in watermelon colors, littered with cherries or clouds or butterflies. This burst of unadulterated joy — at a time before we even knew we needed it — is a core part of Alexandra's brand ethos.
Launched in 2017, her beaded purses are widely considered collectors' items. Rendered in animal print or kaleidoscopic color, they're loved by everyday shoppers, influencers, and celebrities alike, even popping up on supermodels like Gigi Hadid.
Her beaded jewelry gets the same praise and adoration: Pete Davidson wears his Susan Alexandra "Pete" pearl necklace regularly. "To have that validation from celebrities is really exciting. I'm a huge pop culture fanatic," she tells POPSUGAR over Zoom. "There are quite a few people from 'Euphoria' that have pieces, which is really exciting to me because I think that they're what's next."
"What I love about the metaverse is there's no restrictions on what's possible. I could just make it total fantasy and that's a dream as a designer."
Alexandra lives on the cusp of what's next, perennially one step ahead of the rest of the industry. Consider this: several designers are still skeptical of the metaverse, but Alexandra is diving right in. Her latest career move is creating NFT wearables for Absolut's Coachella project. The digital fashion accessories live in Absolut.Land, where fans (21+) are encouraged to connect over shared virtual drinks and outfit their avatars in custom festival-fashion pieces. Among Alexandra's digital designs, you'll find a pair of watermelon earrings with an Absolut cocktail charm, resembling her favorite drink: a dirty martini.
"What I love about the metaverse is there's no restrictions on what's possible," she says. "If it's a shoe, it doesn't have to be comfortable. If it's an earring, it doesn't have to be lightweight. I could just make it total fantasy, and that's a dream as a designer."
Fantasy could soon transcend into real life: Alexandra now plans to foray into the shoe category. "For the metaverse [project], I made these shoes, and they have an Absolut cocktail heel," she says. "And I'm like, 'OK, I'm dying to do shoes now.'"
Clothing is on her radar as well, and she's thrilled about how street style — particularly at festivals — is evolving. "Something that's happening right now is a lot of people just showing their bodies regardless of size," she says, naming cutouts as a festival-fashion trend she loves. "I feel there's this unselfconscious way that people are dressing now. And there's this openness and acceptance. And I really love the idea of genderless fashion; I think that's something that's really exciting, too."
Ahead of Coachella weekend one, Alexandra chats with POPSUGAR about designing for the metaverse, expanding her beloved brand, and the one celebrity she really wants to work with. Read our full interview ahead.