All the Messages Hidden in Christine Alcalay’s Mesmerizing Patterns
“A lot of people don’t know where patterns come from,” explains Christine Alcalay. But in the world of this apparel designer and Brooklyn boutique owner, each print that shows up in her collection is part of a larger seasonal vision—and is custom-made by Christine and her team. So when developing our limited-edition scrunchies, she wanted to give her favorites a sustainable second life (and, um, hand-cut every component from scraps). Here’s the scoop on the very worthy winners—so if you scoop up a hair accessory and the inevitable compliments start rolling in, you’ll have the perfect “well, actually…” follow-up.
“I asked my kids to line-draw endangered animals. They drew giraffes, polar bears, rhinoceroses. We tried to include as many as possible. They used pencil, and then I imported their designs into Photoshop. We blocked in the spaces between the animals with color so they disappeared into an abstract print. It’s a representation of how these species are disappearing from Earth, which is a little dark, but it was a good way to teach my kids about how we have to care for the planet or we will lose these things. It’s also not an obvious animal print, which I’ve never been of a huge fan of traditionally, but once someone tells you what it is, you can start to pick out a giraffe or a polar bear.”
“This is from our recent spring/summer collection, which was inspired by Jane Goodall. I wanted to play with the idea of flora versus fauna, and the floral you see here is columbine that I hand-painted. It’s indigenous to a lot of places. I try to do one or two new prints a season, and this one is a little more painterly than something like the animal print—so it stands out. I will also say that I’ve found my prints pair well together and even with other patterns. They all have a very strong character, but they’re adaptable. Don’t be afraid to test them out.”
“This is from 2018, and the whole collection was inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. I liked the idea of gems because I feel, as women, we’re constantly excavating—who we are, what life is for us, what makes us peaceful. And when we finally get to a place where we feel that, we’re these gems that have been polished by life. So instead of looking to imagery from O’Keeffe’s paintings, I thought more about her path in life and how she was just constantly searching for different ways to express herself, which is something I relate to because in the process of doing every one of our collections, I learn more about myself.”
“This was a fall/winter pattern. All of the silhouettes for that season were inspired by Bianca Jagger, so very seventies shapes and power suiting. But the thing about Bianca Jagger is that while she had her Studio 54 days, she also became a humanitarian, and she’s very active in charity work. With this print, I wanted to go back to the idea of women’s journeys and how that’s mirrored when a seed becomes a flower, which then becomes a fruit. So I knew I wanted to make a print that included those elements. I bought roses and watched them disintegrate; I pulled them apart and photographed them. I opened up all these lychees and looked at how they withered, and they really felt like a metaphor for how women come to fruition and how eventually we all decay. So some of the petals in this pattern are wrinkled, and the lychees are both really plump and then also peeled. The idea was to emphasize how juicy we are as women throughout the different stages of our lives.”