And her collection of Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses
Interior designer Alexandra Pappas wears Kathryn Casten’s (her late grandmother) original Diane von Furstenberg’s iconic wrap dresses from the 1970s, which is like the one worn by Cybill Shepherd in the movie ‘Taxi Driver.’ It was her grandmother who introduced her to Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dresses. Her design firm, Alexandra Pappas Design, is currently working on several interesting adaptive reuse projects. She is especially proud of her just-completed interior design for the offices of Bond Moroch on Magazine Street.
Alexandra Pappas is a stylish interior designer who looks fabulous in her collection of Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses.
“Kathryn Casten, my late grandmother who resembled Ava Gardner in her younger years, introduced me to Diane von Furstenberg’s (DVF) fashion,” she says. “She possessed impeccable style, never left the house without her red Chanel lipstick, and taught me that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. She owned one of DVF’s original iconic wrap dresses of the 1970s, which was like the one worn by Cybill Shepherd in the movie ‘Taxi Driver.
“Not only do I appreciate and admire the functionality of the DVF wrap dress, but I admire what the brand stands for – empowering women through fashion. I think the von Furstenberg woman is someone who is smart, fun and confident. I love how DVF caters to women of all ages in all stages of their life, and the wrap dress is the universal classic in my stylebook. The low-neck, red and white geometric pattern and tie waist that Shepherd wore optimized effortless yet bold style. I was very fortunate to have this vintage dress passed down to me, proving how timeless DVF is. This dress is still in style even today.”
A style conscious smart dresser, Alexandra says her style is a mix of classic and modern with bold accents, whether it’s a bold print or a pop of color. “Less is more,” she says. “I like well-made clothing that is functional and flattering. There is an extreme sense of empowerment you get when you are confident in your clothes. You feel like you can conquer anything.”
A native of New Orleans, Alexandra attended St. Martin’s Episcopal School for 14 years, and then graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens with a degree in interior design.
“During my senior year of college, I accepted an internship in London with a British designer who specialized in luxury hotel and restaurant design,” she says. “He introduced me to the exciting world of hospitality design. I accompanied him on site visits all over London — he designed so effortlessly, and I was very inspired by his elegant style and extreme attention to detail.”
After graduation, she moved to Atlanta where she continued to work on hotels and resorts for top-tier architecture and design firms. “I found a real passion for hotel design because it is so multi-faceted. I quickly rose up the ranks to senior designer at a firm called DesignOne Studio, where I led the team on a full-scale hotel renovation/conversion project that received brand recognition. I served as a key team member on several successful projects for Hilton, Marriott and Starwood, and I was fortunate to build a portfolio of work that ranged from custom boutique hotels to major hotel brand renovations and conversions.”
Alexandra moved back to New Orleans in 2013, where today she is proud to have her own design firm – Alexandra Pappas Design.
“Starting my own business has empowered me to take on other industries outside of hospitality design, such as small business and office spaces.” She is especially happy with her just completed interior design for the offices of Bond Moroch on Magazine Street. “We converted an old movie theater into a chic modern office space, which is unique because of the balance of old architectural elements mixed with new modern finishes and furnishings.”
Currently, she is working on another adaptive reuse project of custom condominiums in the Central Business District, CBD, on Camp Street in the old Times Picayune building. “Last year I completed the renovation of Documart, a local printing business, in a historical building on Baronne Street in the CBD. It was the same street where the company had originally started business over 30 years ago. I am also continuing to work on upgrades for the historical Royal Sonesta Hotel and Restaurant R’evolution in the French Quarter.”
Alexandra feels she is a unique interior designer.
“I think I am unique because, like the fashion that I wear, I deliver functional design with bold and unique accents. I also like to build strong relationships with my clients and encourage them to think outside the box. In my line of work, I think it’s important to possess creative confidence and not to fear judgment, whether it’s in your personal style or professional workplace. I thrive on the creative process, and to me, true success is creating a space that people enjoy. It is very exciting to take a small concept and turn it into a reality.”
Then Alexandra’s thoughts turn back to her DVF wrap dresses. “The wrap dress itself is especially inspiring to me because it represents more than just function and beautiful clothing,” she says. “It came to symbolize female power and independence. It’s a dress that did everything for the woman who aspired to do everything. This speaks to me because I often have to remind myself to slow down.”
Fashion and interior design often influence each other, according to Alexandra. “I am often inspired by fashion when designing a space — how fabrics feel, the unexpected mixing of shapes, patterns and textures. At the end of the day, it should all come together to create a cohesive look.”