Born Princess Annie-Laurie von Auersperg, Ala Isham’s journey to the world of fashion is one that has been decades in the making. As a child, visits to Parisian couture houses with her mother, Sunny Crawford von Bülow, and grandmother, Annie Laurie Aitken, planted seeds in Ala’s mind that would ultimately take root much later in life.
Despite a cultured upbringing and a lifelong love of the arts, it wasn’t until 2009 that Ala found her own muse. Searching for a creative outlet, she decided to take painting lessons with Ophrah Shemesh, a teacher from the New Studio School. What she discovered was a talent she never realized she had. But it was only when her dressmaker Antonio Gual suggested printing one of her original creations on a dress that everything finally clicked.
Since then, Ala has poured all of her newfound passion and energy into Ala von Auersperg, her namesake label of women’s clothing. The process of creating her collection is an intimate one for Ala, with each piece beginning life not as a garment or pattern, but an original drawing or painting.
Taking inspiration from her tropical surroundings in Antigua, Ala paints or sketches whatever catches her eye. Once finished, she works with her team to translate her art into a print that becomes the foundation for a one-of-a-kind garment. The whimsical nature of her process ensures that each piece in the collection is a literal work of art and a unique expression of Ala’s vision, rather than being informed by trends, sales or other external influences.
However, it’s only after other women incorporate her pieces into their own outfits that Ala feels her work is truly complete. Effortlessly elegant, free-flowing and universally flattering, each piece invites the wearer to bring her own creativity to how it’s worn, and to become her own masterpiece. More than clothes or even art, Ala sees her designs as a catalyst for helping women embrace their inherent beauty, find their confidence and celebrate life.
Ala has led a storied life outside of the fashion world. In 1985, she co-founded the National Center for Victims of Crime, an organization that provides victims of crime with rights, protection and services to help them rebuild their lives. In 1986, she co-founded the Brain Trauma Foundation, which supports ongoing research on traumatic brain injuries. Ala’s work with both organizations is dedicated to the memory of her late mother. Together with her conservation efforts in Antigua, Ala is committed to empowering women and leaving the world a better place than how she found it.
Cultivating a welcoming environment where people can enjoy themselves and each other’s company is important to Ala, which is why her hobbies include entertaining, hosting and gardening. As a mother of four and grandmother of five, Ala loves spending time with her family and celebrating the joie de vivre, passion and excitement that life presents.