Designer, shopkeeper, arts curator, events planner, and style icon: polymath [Alex Eagle] could lay claim to every one of these monikers. The ebullient founder and creative director of an eponymous concept store and London retail-gallery concepts The Store X—now with outposts in Berlin and Oxfordshire and a second in London—is known for putting together spaces that put style, art, and commerce together into dynamic dialogue. She’s just 36 years old, but Eagle’s eye and edit have become signal definers of 21st century British style.
Alex Eagle first opened her eponymous boutique Alex Eagle Studio on Walton Street in Chelsea in 2014—a tiny space where both major international and cottage-industry names met and merged. It wasn’t long before she moved to a much larger space on Soho’s Lexington Street. Clothes run the gamut from extremely feminine dresses to austere Savile Row-style suiting, and collectible pieces by Audou-Minet or Pierre Jeanneret might share display space with glassware designed by the Venetian nobleman Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga or gallery-caliber fashion illustrations. Eagle’s notable collaborations—with the likes of haberdashers New & Lingwood or 250-year-old luggage makers Swaine Adeney Brigg—recast the best-of British heritage brands with an edge.
After opening The Store X’s first outpost in 2015 in Berlin’s Soho House, Eagle’s exposure in Europe expanded. “What I love about Berlin is that at any given table in any given restaurant there will be five different nationalities. It’s a true global hub for creativity and not just in art—science and tech, too. Anything goes, and there’s room for everyone. And I really love that it’s still in flux; it’s not fully developed.” She conceived of a space that would be “sort of this big hangout, not just a shop. There’s also a healthy food place, so you get juices and locally sourced seasonal salads. I designed a lot of the furniture and mixed it in with mid-century pieces. I love all of that.” Berlin is also where Eagle focuses on working with more global brands.“It’s great, very stimulating to have [labels like] Junya [from Japan], Vetements [from France], Off White from [the US]—all of that more ephemeral stuff.”
In 2017, Eagle launched her own limited-edition womenswear line—including a careful selection of trousers, jackets, and scarf-neck shirts and dresses that have become staples in London editor circles. And a year later, Alex Eagle Bespoke made its debut. These days, women from Santa Monica to Sydney (with no shortage from South Kensington) book in for fittings.
Travel has been a driver of her creativity her whole life, Eagle says, referring to trips through Morocco, India, Los Angeles (“I’d live there for a bit”), and Japan (“style-wise they just get it all, because it’s all about craft and heritage and the finish”). These days, though, she’s roaming closer to home, busy renovating a cottage and small farm for her family in Oxfordshire. “It’s quite humble,” Eagle says, “with a lovely orchard of pears and quince and apples. My three-year-old, Jack, loves it. It’s great to watch him go from being such an urban child to just immersed in it there. It’s amazing how seeing [a new location] through your kids’ eyes changes it. It’s added a huge element of pleasure to travelling for me.”
Where was your last vacation? We just came back from Gstaad, Switzerland, and I absolutely love it there. We’ve been a few times, and we always ski for a day or two. Between and after my babies, I felt nervous and kind of vulnerable about skiing. But I just got it together and did it—I took a teacher along, and I was actually happier and more confident than I’d ever been. I was off-piste, doing black diamond runs. I actually found it very meditative.
We also drove from Lake Constance to Lake Como and it was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever done. I’d do it again as much for the scenery as for getting from Point A to Point B. It really did remind me that travelling is not just counting the minutes till you get there.
Where will your next vacation be? My next planned holiday is a house in Lucca, Italy, that I’ve rented with a good friend. That’s not ‘til the summer, though—hopefully I’ll get to do something before that.
The thing you can’t travel without? Definitely a good book. The most recent was Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up; it reminded me of Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China—actually it has inspired me to reread that too. And an Alex Eagle cashmere hoodie. I designed them because I couldn’t find one that was super cosy but kept me looking smart.
What is your in-flight ritual? For long hauls, my ritual is to turn it into a sort of spa zone as much as possible. I travel with lavender spray that I douse my chair and myself with; I take really good vitamins for relaxation and immune protection; and I slather a Sisley mask on my face.
When were you happiest while traveling? Generally, though I’m married with four kids now and really love my family, I also really love being by myself—I’m a Gemini, so alone time is key. I’m super happy to take myself to Buchinger [Wilhelmi spa in Marbella, Spain and Germany] or Lanserhof [spa resort in Lans, Austria] for a week. And I’d definitely go skiing alone. But a specific moment in time? That would be India, when I was 10. My dad worked in India a lot so we went often. I remember being in Kerala and then Pondicherry, and people being so incredibly warm and hospitable. I woke up super early, and I made chapatis in those stone ovens. I recall so clearly that feeling, it must have been one of the first times, of being aware of being so far from home, in a place full of strange everything—smells and sounds and colours—but feeling such warmth from the people there that I wasn’t homesick. I was perfectly content.
If you could live at any hotel, which would it be? Maybe the Ritz in Paris? Yeah, that would be pretty fabulous. New York and Paris are really the places you can make your home in a hotel. You know; you go from the Louvre to some amazing shop to some fabulous restaurant back to your beautiful room at The Ritz, and that experience as a whole makes you think, ‘You know, I could live here.’ When of course actually living in either place would be far more mundane without the hotel magic. Hotels can really feed the inspiration, is the thing. I’d love to retire to a hotel.
What is your room service indulgence? The things I don’t normally eat: a club sandwich, chips, a big glass of wine. There’s something about a dressing gown and the TV on and room service chips—it appeals to the child in you. Like the kid on vacation who gets the Haagen-Daaz and the candy and the grilled cheese and the crisps, because vacation.
The strangest place you’ve spent a night? Ah, there have been some dodgy ones. When I was 18, I stayed in a room in Varanasi, India that had no windows. Actually, the first night at this place, we slept on the roof because there were no rooms; then the second night, this one came available. Varanasi is as magical and energetic as everyone says; but no windows was intense.
What is your favorite market? Les Puces in Paris. No contest. It’s completely my happy place, and I do a lot of work there for projects, so I feel deeply at home. I wouldn’t mind having a stall there one day.
If you could travel to any place in any epoch, which would it be? Venice! Venice, back in the day. The mid- or late-1800’s. It just… resonates. I actually think I’ve been there before, in my past life; my husband and I are fairly convinced it’s where we met the first time around.
What are the show-off spots in your hometown? Pimlico Road [in London] for shopping. It’s a slightly different retail experience, and nicely old school, and it’s interesting as an outing—there are little spots to have a coffee or lunch between all the very good design and antique shops. And Portobello [Road] on a Friday morning, with a stop at Orasay, Jackson Boxer’s restaurant, for lunch afterward. Notting Hill is close to unrecognisable in some ways, it’s changed so much from when I was young. But there’s still such a kind of un-ruined-ness to the Friday early morning Portobello run; some of the stalls have been there for 15 or 20 years. And I love showing off Soho. You’ve got Gelupo for amazing ice cream and Bocca di Lupo for lunch, and then the chichi of Regent Street, and in between are all the sex shops and dive bars.
Which places would you happily spend a weekend, a week, a month, and a year? Hotel Il Pellicano for a (summer) weekend. Unbeatable.
Skiing in the Alps for a week. Active and healthy.
LA for a month—it’s the perfect amount of time to really get into the way of life; the waking up early, doing the hikes, getting the juice; all those rituals.
And Tokyo for a year. I would just really love to get to grips with that city, so that I could know it deeply and well.
Describe a memorable meal from your travels. The mozzarella grilled in lemon leaves and the white wine with peaches at Da Adolfo [in Positano]. Ah, God, so good. It may all be cooked in a little shack at the back of the restaurant, but basically it’s the best food you’ve ever eaten. And the place adds to the joy—all kinds of people, kids underfoot, just crazy and happy.
Where are you ashamed that you’ve never been? Besides Morocco, I’ve never been anywhere in Africa. That’s massively on the list. But I think you’d need to find two weeks to that kind of trip, and that’s difficult. And I so want to take the children on a safari which will be a few years off.
What are your three favorite stores on earth? Windows on Melrose in LA is super inspiring, always. There’s an amazing vintage shop in Siena called Aloe&Wolf; I’d fly to Siena just for this place, it’s that good. And Loretta Capponi in Florence; everything handmade and beautiful.
Most treasured travel memento? My son, Jack! He was made in Paris. Otherwise, gosh—there are so many. The last time I was in Japan I bought some amazing ceramic cups. They were such a pain to get home to London—such meticulous packing, such babysitting and guarding the whole way through—but every morning I get up and have my tea in one of them, and I get such enormous pleasure from it.
Why do you travel? Oh, wow. All the reasons that sound pat and a bit cheesy are true, aren’t they? To open my mind, to see things differently, to be inspired. To lose myself in a place a bit, for sure. The truth is I travel because I can’t not. I just itch to.
Maria Shollenbarger is the longtime travel editor at the Financial Times’ How To Spend It magazine. She also writes for Travel + Leisure, The Australian’s WISH magazine, and the FTWeekend. She lives in London and Italy.