Let’s start with your background. It seems that a lot of the people that you have featured on Citiphile are in fashion.
My background is heavily based in fashion. I wanted to be in this industry since I can remember. I started interning for the CFDA when I was 17; I sort of became Lisa Smilor’s assistant and she took it upon herself to take me under her wing and help me find my own fashion footing. I call her my fashion godmother because she basically parlayed me into a job in the PR department at Alexander Wang back in 2008. I worked for Mary Kate Steinmiller at Teen Vogue for a while the following year and later, I ended up writing and reporting for Women’s Wear Daily in LA. I would do red carpet reporting and cover celebrity-based events.
But now you are back in New York.
Yes. Eventually, I moved to NY and started freelancing for titles. When Amanda Weiner left Niche Media for Harper’s Bazaar, she interviewed me for an editor position at Niche and I got the job. I stayed there for two years, overseeing their fashion writing for all ten regional titles, as well as some styling work. Eventually though, I decided I wanted to do my own thing.
So tell us about how the idea behind Citiphile came about.
My boyfriend at the time – he’s now my fiancé – and I were going to see the Rolling Stones headline in Glastonbury. We had one night in London, and I was getting so frustrated trying to plan us a fun date night in the city. I was combing through anonymous reviews on sites like Trip Advisor as I wanted somewhere fun and that took advantage of being in the city, but I thought to myself, “Who is to say that I have the same taste as these nondescript reviewers?” I remember thinking that if I knew Stella McCartney’s favorite date night spot, that is where we would go…
Why is that? Why would you trust Stella McCartney’s taste?
I think that within the design community— be it fashion, art, design— there’s an implicit level of taste there. We not only care about the quality of the food, but the overall experience, the energy, the crowd. We tend to value all of the pieces that go into a truly memorable experience.
What’s the motivation behind Citiphile?
I want to change the way people travel. We have only have been launched for two years, initially covering New York only; now New York and LA, and we are curating these cities in a way that no one has really done before— from the eyes of the leading local influencers that live in them.
What does the Citiphile team look like?
I am based in New York, but I do have an editor out in LA. My photographer and I will shoot four times a year in LA. We’ll get 30 people photographed in 10 days or something crazy. We’ll tackle that “Bermuda triangle of LA”— commuting from Venice to Pasadena and back to Culver City, all in an afternoon.
While Citiphile originally featured predominately fashion influencers, is there a shift to bring attention to more creative individuals?
My background was fashion, so when we launched Citiphile, the site featured mainly fashion tastemakers for the first year. We were uploading three interviews a week to build a database so we launched with Cushnie and Ochs’ Carly and Michelle, Elie Tahari, Rebecca Minkoff. In the past six months however, Citiphile has really branched out— featuring many more local artists, interior designers, and architects, too. It’s not only broadening our audience, but it also bringing attention to the unsung heroes of these communities. Fashion is such a social media business that many already know about the top influencers; but the design community (art, architecture, etc.) is so much bigger— there are so many unique and talented people.
As a New Yorker, you are familiar with most of the neighborhoods around the city. I’m curious to know how you would describe some of your favorite areas, like Lower East Side (LES) or West Village.
In my opinion, the LES is one of the only untapped New York gems left. You still get that gritty old-school New York there – mixed in with the trending new cafés, but still. It’s both nostalgic and modern. You get this feeling that everyone is cool, but they’re still pounding the pavement and working hard for what they are doing. On the other hand, the West Village is very idyllic. It’s the quintessential New York dream. You walk through the neighborhood and whether you are thinking about Carrie Bradshaw or the Beatnik artists, it’s aspirational.
What area in New York would you like to become more familiar with?
Brooklyn. The farther out you get, the more interesting it becomes— whether that means Bushwick or Bed-Stuy. Everyone associates Brooklyn with Williamsburg, but there are so many pockets, each with different personalities. If you walk through, you’ll see woodworkers making gorgeous pieces of furniture or candle-makers creating homemade dipped candles; it’s an artisan hub.
Right now, Citiphile is based in LA and New York. What’s next?
We are trying to launch in London, Paris, Milan, then vacation destinations. My dream is that someone can come to Citiphile and plan the most incredibly unique trip— whether they are going to India or New York. They shouldn’t have to look anywhere else.
Now for the age-old question, are you an east coast or a west coast girl?
I grew up half on the east coast and half on the west coast so I think there’s an inherent balance that’s been cultivated in me. I grew up in New York and Connecticut until I was 14, and spent the latter part of my life in Southern California. I would say I am a New Yorker at heart with a need to escape to LA from time to time.
When you need some R&R, where do you head to for a weekend getaway?
The Glenmere Mansion. It’s an hour and a half away from the city, but you feel worlds away. No matter what season you visit in, the property is stunning, the spa is beautiful and the staff is so incredibly kind. It’s a gem of a place.
In an ideal world, who would you love to feature on Citiphile?
I love strong female photographers like Ellen von Unwerth or Annie Liebovitz. They both have such unique eyes so I can only imagine what their perspectives on NYC are like. I would also love to have interviewed Fitzgerald— to see the old New York that so many of us dream of.
Speaking of Fitzgerald, let’s talk books. What do you recommend everyone read at some point in their life?
East of Eden is my favorite book that I have ever read. It’s a classic fiction book that is so beautifully written; I couldn’t put it down. I also love indie magazines: Cereal for travel inspiration, The Ground for its spotlight on amazing modern women, and, of course, The Gentlewoman.
What does your own travel bucket list look like?
I would love to go to India— it’s number one on my list. My fiancé and I are going to Sri Lanka for our honeymoon— we’re hopping to do yoga, explore the beaches, waterfalls and monasteries. I would love to go back to South America too— specifically, Chile and Patagonia.
Who would you recommend everyone follow on Instagram?
@TheLinenyc and @Fritz_Hansen for décor inspo, @Andiandiandi for an inside look at the contemporary art world, @VIOLETGREY for beauty and vintage babes, @Janaki_Larsen for jaw-dropping ceramics, @Protagonistnyc for fashion, @thetrottergirl for wanderlust and @gjustabakery for food!
And lastly, in your own words how do you define beauty?
Peace— within ourselves, our lives, our world.
For more of Alexandria’s work, check out The Citiphile.