Ala von Auersperg, Palm Beach’s Playful Designer

Though Ala Isham, creative director of Ala von Auersperg does translate her artistic expressions onto fabrics for her signature collections of resort wear, thankfully she does not promote her designs using that cringe-worthy term, wearable art. Instead, her vision is to provide a handsome and versatile assortment of casual-to-dressy pieces that are cheerfully vibrant and geared for wear in sunny spots around the globe. “There are no real seasons with my clothes,” she explains, “it’s always warm somewhere.”

Ala Isham (Images courtesy of Ala von Auersperg)

So, her current collection is always “seasonless,” which is how she perceives the lifestyle of her customers, women of a certain means who range in age from their 20s to their 80s. It’s actually her and her friends’ way of life that inspires her creations. She moves from the Hamptons to Newport and Antigua to Palm Beach during the year, with regular stops in Manhattan, where her studio and office are located. 

An Ala von Auersperg look.

Von Auersperg characterizes her clothes as casual and elegant, inherently practical, and a little “flirty.” Comfort and flattering cuts are important to her, as the collection was born five years ago as she was encouraged by her designer friend and collaborator Antonio Gual to apply the subjects of her drawings and paintings to clothes he was making for her to wear at her Caribbean home. “Antonio advised me that there was nothing new with regard to cut, but that my prints would be ‘distinctive.’” she says. “When a woman feels comfortable, she moves differently,” von Auersperg remarks. Her aim is: give her clients clothes they can put on and not think about—the no-fuss approach to getting dressed.

The first Ala von Auersperg boutique opened on Palm Beach’s fabled and historic main shopping street, Worth Avenue, last winter and, despite a pandemic, has been doing great business. She even designed a selection of digital-print face masks, in deference to the current climate. She sells to a handful of shops and has opened pop ups for what she calls her “coastal” clothes, though the bulk of her sales are via her online site. “We’ve also done many trunk shows to reach women across the country, not just in the places we live and visit.” These trunk shows are usually in-person, but in the time of COVID-19 Ala von Auersperg has pivoted to hosting them virtually—and these trunk shows are a helpful forum to connect with her customers to get specific input on her designs.

An Ala von Auersperg look.

Her team, in addition to Gual, includes daughter Sunny, responsible for marketing and private sales, and fashion industry veteran Larry Black. Stylist Trish Carroll runs the Palm Beach boutique.

Ala Isham and family in Ala von Auersperg looks.