Alexandra Lebenthal is a columnist for New York Social Diary and the author of the novel “The Recessionistas.” She is the CEO of Lebenthal and Co., and involved with several programs for women in business.
How does one, as CEO of Lebenthal and Co, prepare to go from a Wall Street to galas in the same day?
Part of going from a tough day job to social events at night is embracing it! I look forward to dressing up and becoming a fairy princess at night. It relieves the stress of my day in the most simple ways.
Whether it’s the (somewhat sad) days, when I know I must wear only grey or black and somber jewelry because I have a corporate meeting, or the days when I know I can express my true style and wear what makes me happy, or the nights when I go home to have my “glam squad” do a great updo, fun makeup and put on a ball gown, it’s all a part of my time to shine with what I wear.
You’re often photographed by Bill Cunningham for the New York Times “Evening Hours.” Is that fun?
Anna Wintour has said “We all dress for Bill.” I definitely believe that. Knowing that I can have fun and be creative and make someone who appreciates the beauty and individuality of fashion want to take pictures of me is a wonderful thing to look forward to!
Who are your go-to designers? Do any of them take you from day to night?
My favorite is John Dunn, who isn’t well known but makes the most spectacular balls gowns and even lets me collaborate with him from time to time. He makes me feel like I’m a Vogue cover, and I adore the great complements I get whenever I wear his clothes. My other go to designer is Douglas Hannant. I’m close friends with Douglas and his partner Frederick. Hannant’s day clothes are truly the ones that make me feel like I can walk into a business meeting and just snap! The ball gowns and evening dresses are always 100% show stoppers. Knowing that they are friends makes it all the better!
How about daytime, where do the boundaries of professionalism lie when trying to dress fashionably at the office?
There are boundaries. Sometimes I’m on a plane at 6 am to go to the Midwest to meet with corporate treasurers. At best a woman in that company will wear St. Johns Knits. I cannot walk in with a Dolce and Gabanna dress and Miu Miu shoes. I dress down and “get into the part.” Once in the city I even went home after one meeting knowing it wasn’t going to be appropriate for the lunch. I will say though, that the beauty of being an entrepreneur, is that aside from those types of meetings I can look at my calendar and usually decide what I want to wear that expresses my personality.
Coming off the one year anniversary of publishing “The Recessionistas,” do you see more fictional writing in your future?
I am working on book two and already having great fun!
What’s it about?
The book is about a charming southern couple who arrive in New York with a seemingly hot, successful hedge fund. They find a somewhat ignorant and desperate firm who will be the main distributor to society and Wall Street types. Of course it’s a scam and it takes the CEO of the firm’s trusted lieutenant to expose it.
Do you feel you audience from the book was the same as your audience on New York Social Diary? How do they differ?
I don’t know that I entirely know who my New York Social Diary audience is but I think (or would like to think from comments I’ve received), that my book audience was a 26 year old woman in the fashion business who didn’t know a lot about finances or Wall Street but picked up the book because she liked the cover, or title, or someone gave it to her and she read it and fell in love!
Amongst the many philanthropic endeavors you are involved in, is their one that is most important to you?
My mom died of Alzheimers after ten terrible years. My mom was one of my best friends, and she missed so much of my life and that of my kids. I am involved in the Alzheimers Association as well as the Alzheimers Drug Discovery Foundation and am determined to be a part of the cure.