SAO PAULO – Among all the fabrics, sketches and sequins, the seamstresses of Maison Alexandrine meticulously craft the exclusive creations of Portuguese fashion designer Alexandra Fructuoso, who recently dressed Beyoncé.
Fructuoso dedicated almost 30 years of her life to a pharmaceutical company before deciding in 2015 to sell it and leave the industry for her passion for fashion and take on the world of haute couture.
Since realizing her “unlikely” childhood dream in just a few short years, she has already won over clients including Nancy Spielberg, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Paris Hilton, Alessandra Ambrosio and most recently, Beyoncé.
“I always wanted to dress celebrities and Beyoncé was the first on my list,” Fructuoso told Efe.
The queen of pop entrusted Maison Alexandrine with a dress the singer was going to wear at a New Year’s Eve concert in 2018, but the garment finally premiered in the video of “Spirit” for the new Lion King movie.
The video released in July has had more than 43.4 million views on the star’s official YouTube channel.
The artist requested the piece be made of pearls and be “a little sensual,” though without showing “too much” of her body.
The brand had just one week to present and deliver its design.
It took a team of nine professionals 160 hours to create the dress from tulle, silk, and more than 18,000 faux pearls, beads and crystals.
The whole thing set the singer back 13,000 Brazilian Real (about $3,200).
The magic happened at the brand’s Sao Paolo headquarters and workshop, a sumptuous four-story building crowned with a dome inspired by the Grand Palais of Paris.
As there was not enough time for Beyoncé to try on the dress Fructuoso had to rely on a live mannequin to make sure the piece would fit perfectly.
“We had her eat a lot so she would get a bit fuller and closer to Beyoncé’s measurements. The poor woman ate everything, we gave her chocolate in the morning, in the afternoon and at night,” Fructuoso recalled.
The team was surprised when Beyoncé wore another piece to the New Year’s Eve concert. When Fructuoso called to ask what had happened she was told Beyoncé had liked the dress so much she’d decided to save it for a “more special” occasion.
“I only knew she’d worn it when the video was released,” she said. “When I saw it I was even happier because the Lion King is wonderful.”
“Best of all,” according to the designer, is that there is now more attention being paid to Brazilian style. “We have many talents here.”
Maison Alexandrine has a showroom in Los Angeles, is in Galeries Lafayette in Dubai and has its headquarters in Sao Paulo.
But winning over clients abroad has not been easy. Some friends helped her get to Nancy Spielberg, who wore Fructuoso on a New York red carpet in 2015.
For the 52-year-old businesswoman, the secret to her success lies in the dedication, quality and beauty of her pieces, as well as the feminist message embodied by them.
“I am a mother, wife, grandmother and businesswoman, so I carry the flag of a strong woman who can do everything,” she said.
“You don’t have to stop being a housewife to be a professional, or being a dedicated wife and mother just because you work.”
Overseas sales of the brand, set up by a Portuguese woman who decided to move to Brazil in the 1980s at the age of 19, make up 5% of its total sales.
Fructuoso hopes to conquer Europe and the United States next.
She also plans to reel in other famous clients from abroad.
And although she doesn’t usually make men’s clothes, there is one British male celebrity she would like to dress.
“I would love to make a blazer for Elton John. He wears incredible glasses and having seen the movie about his life I am even more of a fan.”