The Foundation for a Meaningful Life Kindergarten - Grade 9 in Southborough, MA
Style & Substance: Alex Rosenwald '01
Daintry Duffy Zaterka '88
As Design Director for Per Se by Carlisle, Alex Rosenwald influences all aspects of the brand’s collection.
Even as a fifth grader, Alex Rosenwald noticed the difference in how some kids dressed. “We all had to look polished at Fay, but I could see the influence of high fashion in the way some of the older international students dressed, and it inspired me.” That interest was reinforced at home by the example of Alex’s dad, Associate Head of School and elegant dresser Stu Rosenwald. From Fay through St. Mark’s, Alex focused on sports, chorus, and band, and there was very little outlet for his interest in fashion. However, after graduating from St. Mark’s, Alex headed off to the University of Delaware, intending to major in apparel design. A six-week internship in Dublin with designer John Rocha changed everything.
Alex is the Design Director for Per Se by Carlisle, the fashion-forward luxury label within the Carlisle Etcetera brand. Based in New York City, Alex is responsible for managing all aspects of the design process and setting the overall direction of Per Se’s full collection each season from initial inspiration to color, style, and trend. Unlike larger companies such as Ralph Lauren or Banana Republic, where a designer might be hired to focus on just pants or blouses, Alex has gravitated to smaller niche brands like Per Se, where he can influence all aspects of the label’s collection.
Alex’s journey to New York started halfway through his freshman year at Delaware, when he arrived for his internship with John Rocha in Dublin. He knew that the internship was an opportunity but did not realize that it was a turning point. “John saw that I was very passionate about what I did and told me that I needed to study fashion in London or New York.” Alex came home from Dublin with a new perspective and purpose. He spent the remainder of his year at Delaware intently focused on fashion, winning a fashion show competition, and planning his next step. He applied to the London College of Fashion over the summer, was admitted in July, and found himself moving overseas just a few weeks later.
Alex started off feeling behind. His British classmates had already spent the last two years of high school building their fashion portfolios. “I started my study of fashion focused on art, and that gave me my foundation and my first strong footprint in the field.” In Alex’s third year at the London College of Fashion, he met his future wife, fellow design student Isabelle Bundi. After graduation, they decided to head to New York, where the industry had more potential and depth. After several months of working as an unpaid intern, Alex landed an assistant designer position at Diane Von Furstenberg. Several years at DVF led to a job offer from the Elie Tahari Women’s Collection, where he worked for four years, until his former boss at Tahari recruited him to Carlisle. Isabelle has also had success in the field, having designed at Calvin Klein for over seven years. She is currently the Head of Design at lingerie and sleepwear brand “Skin.”
Living in New York with Isabelle, Alex finds plenty of creative inspiration in the museums and art galleries around the city. However, he also seeks new ideas abroad. “My wife and I travel as much as we can because we believe it’s important to get out of the box we live in,” says Alex. “Travel allows the creative mind to expand, and going to a new place can be inspiring and make you think differently.” Alex and Isabelle try to visit three to four new places each year that nourish their creativity. A recent trip through the American Southwest did just that. “We were in Santa Fe and Sedona, and these places were so rich in their own culture and with the Native American influence that it was extremely inspirational,” says Alex.
Given that Fay played a role in nurturing Alex’s eye for high fashion, it is particularly fitting that the school recently asked him to redesign its traditional necktie, which you can purchase in Fay’s School Store! However, Alex also credits Fay with much more than his fashion sense. “I often have to do presentations in front of large groups of people, and I have quite a bit of ease in doing that because of the experience that I gained in Fay’s public speaking program.” He also credits Fay with his sense of confidence and a belief in his abilities that have helped him succeed in a highly competitive field. Alex’s choice to pursue a nontraditional career has set him on a fulfilling life path; he hopes that the next generation of Fay students will continue to take risks and pursue their dreams in fields where they find both passion and purpose.