A Feel For Fashion: Alexandre Assouline


A Frenchman in New York to vaguely quote Sting's famous song. Alex Assouline was born in Paris but he moved to the Big Apple in 2007 where he learned everything about digital marketing at Columbia Business School. In 2016 he joined the family company and has been Chief of Operations, Brand & Strategy since 2021. Twenty years ago, his parents, Prosper and Martine Assouline, founded their namesake publishing House in Paris, bridging luxury and culture, and their catalogue of titles reflects their always impeccable, sometimes playful taste. Assouline books signal a unique aesthetic, much like the venerable fashion Houses. In this week of Haute Couture, Assouline’s ongoing fashion collaborations with Maisons such as Chanel and Dior have resulted in beautiful and timeless times, while Azzedine Alaïa, a great friend of the family, is the godfather of Alex.

What excites you in fashion right now?


As a child, I learned a lot about fashion history by visiting Azzedine Alaïa’s studio. Later on, I learned more about the industry when I was in college. And finally, thanks to my parents’ Memoire collection of books. This collection was indeed released at a time when fashion books were still rare and expensive. It’s exciting for me to see and understand how designers get inspired and create new pieces of clothing.


How do you choose the topics or authors for Assouline’s fashion books?


It starts with a feeling. We choose names that reflect our ethos and, as a family business, we have to truly love an author’s work and want to be passionate about it. With our trusted team, we dive into the core of each project, and there are critical moments during which the book reveals its own kind of “music.” It is usually a year-long journey of desire, with each photograph adding a chapter to the book’s harmonious story. Authors that share our goal create stories that match our narrative philosophy. We commit solely to creating books that reflect our ethos, always ensuring authenticity in everything we publish.


How do you think Assouline’s books contribute to conversations about fashion?


When we create a book about a brand or a designer, we try to cover all angles without leaving any details behind. As a result, we learn a lot about how to capture the core of someone’s work so that it is both engaging and easy to understand. Fashion is more than just clothes; it is about expressing yourself at a specific time. We’ve known and practiced this since the beginning.


In what ways do you think AI might shape the way we experience fashion imagery and content?


I think AI can empower more designers and help them create pieces that are even more innovative and forward-thinking. Creatives now have the opportunity to really let their creativity run free; to develop their creative process more quickly in order to keep up with the seasons; and to come up with designs that couldn’t have been conceived just a few years ago.


What do you think about the new trend of “bookshelf wealth” on social media?


I believe it’s an interesting way to look through people and what they love or are interested in. A bookshelf says a lot about you: it reveals your aspirations, interests, and passions. The way you organise and showcase your books also says a lot: the colors you choose, the sizes, the themes. I think it’s a reflection of each person. It’s not just about the fashion or design aspect, it’s how you present yourself to the world.


What impact might you hope to have on fashion through your work?


I truly believe we create sources of inspiration for designers, whether it’s through a curated selection of artworks from an artist, or through our extensive collection of travel books. It sets a tone and a style, and some designers can imagine a new direction in their work thanks to that. We also wish to inspire people through images and text, by revealing new and unique stories about the fashion world.


What makes a book something you buy to read rather than just to collect — even though some books are for both?


Our readers look for knowledge and culture and are inspired by the appeal of a certain lifestyle, we absolutely love to deliver that to them. We give our readers a chance to immerse themselves within a specific subject while providing a visually appealing piece of home décor that can be set on a table or in a contemporary library. And of course, it can also be an amazing conversation starter.


This interview has been lightly edited.