Exotic Handbag Queen Alexandra Knight is my idol.
First and most importantly, Alexandra went to Hollins College. She was actually just a year older than I was and I remember her vividly. She had the best style—simple and sophisticated. She was smart and unique, and I knew way back then she was going to be a woman worth watching. I guess the old college motto is true, Women who go places start at Hollins!
About Alexandra Knight
When fashion editor and stylist Alexandra Loyd Knight married and moved from Manhattan back to her native Houston, she was in for a rude awakening. As a former fashion editor at Allure, who was also an assistant stylist for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Knight has long worked with such leading photographers as Helmut Newton, Irving Penn and Annie Leibovitz. For these prestigious shoots, stylists often have designers custom-make items, whether it is reworking an evening dress in vivid red or heightening the heel of a stiletto. Once back in Texas, Knight realized it was an opportunity denied most consumers. As she remembers, “I thought, ‘Why can’t designers and manufacturers just make what you want?’ If I could do it as an editor—knowing that factories can make those kinds of changes—why can’t the client?”
Knight also sensed a need in the market for something new. “I was going to more and more black-tie events and all of the evening bags out there were either too ornate or too mature,” she explains. “It was impossible to find young, chic evening bag that was understated but still very elegant.”
Alexandra, who is now working on designing her 100th shape, has quickly become one of the world’s most innovative designers of handmade alligator handbags. “No hardware, no logos,” announced a “Fashion Newsflash” in Vogue, “Alexandra Knight’s pieces are just fine in their own skins.” A complete range of handmade bags in the finest alligator skins, Alexandra Knight takes classic elegance and makes it modern. The style starts with such timeless forms as the perfect clutch, the oversized tote and the hobo bag. These signature shapes are then handcrafted with the most exquisite alligator skins—both farmed and wild—from the swamps of Louisiana. Most are created from one perfect skin, always taken from the belly of the beast, and lined in alligator, leather or suede. Vibrant colors give the line its punch. The palette ranges from Pepto Pink to Cherry Red to Mandarin Orange, as well as darker hues like Chocolate, Cognac and Noir. For Fall, shades that have come straight off the runways include a deep, dark purple and the perfect army green. New shades, created every season, are exclusive to Alexandra Knight.
Alexandra Knight embodies two of the most important trends in fashion: customization and individuality. Sophisticated clients now want a hand in the design process and insist on setting themselves apart from the crowd. Every Alexandra Knight bag is entirely made-to-order. The client chooses the color, whether it is one of the signature shades or a color-match with anything in the wardrobe (recently, one customer created an evening bag matching the ivory tulle of an haute couture gown). The alligator skin can be a rough matte or a sleek glazed finish. The lining—in alligator, leather or suede—can be fashioned in any shade—matching or contrasting the exterior. The straps can be lengthened or shortened. Each takes between six and eight weeks to produce and comes with a sterling silver plate on the interior, engraved with the owner’s name and the birth date of the bag.
Alexandra Knight also represents another stylistic trend: discreet luxury. Her forms are always classic, there is no hardware and logos have been banished. “Women want beautiful accessories that will complement their look, not compete with it,” Knight says. That kind of simplicity, however, requires that everything be perfect. Knight insists on using only the world’s most luxurious leather—Grade 1, Louisiana alligator. Unlike others who rely on lesser skins like caiman, a form of crocodile, Alexandra Knight uses only the most flawless alligator skins. Knight also employs a technique called “Bombé,” where the skin is heated to raise the center of each scale (it gives the skins a richer texture and shows the brilliance of the scales). Knight’s ribbons—in grosgrain, satin or velvet—are by Mokuba, known as the most exquisite ribbons in the world.
Knight is a designer involved in every aspect of the process, from marsh to market. She has traveled to Louisiana to learn as much as possible about the raising, farming and trapping of alligators. She went to Georgia to work with the best tannery, understanding how to select skins and how to dye them. And she works with the most renowned factory in the United States, where her bags are entirely made by hand.
Alexandra Knight lives in Houston, Texas along with her husband Brady C. Knight and her 2 boys – Thomson (5) and Truett (3) and their 2 English Labs, Ella & Luna. Alexandra Knight’s handmade alligator accessories: American Express’ Departures magazine calls them, “The best little bags in Texas.”