Susan Alexandra Gets Fashion Week’s Regulars to Crack a Smile

The fashion industry’s self-seriousness is easy to laugh at. Think of Emily Blunt in The Devil Wears Prada, the entire premise of Zoolander, or Cher Horowitz telling her armed robber, “You don’t understand, this is an Alaïa!” And although plenty of designers approach the medium with a sense of humor (Jeremy Scott and the late Elsa Schiaparelli immediately come to mind), the intensity of the industry is on full display during fashion week. It’s a time when everyone in the biz is stressed out.

Who better to bring a laugh to those harried faces than Susan Korn of Susan Alexandra? The downtown New York designer is known for whimsical beaded handbags and accessories that pepper Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, and her presentations are just as much fun. Her two latest fashion week events have been a musical review in February 2020 and a Bat Mitzvah–themed bash in September 2019. This time she hosted a party show at the Comedy Cellar, emceed by Search Party and Abbott Elementary’s Larry Owens and featuring the likes of Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman and Sarah Sherman, Emmy nominee Sydnee Washington, and Cat Cohen of the Netflix hit The Twist? She’s Gorgeous.

Korn opened the show herself by joking that the people who hate fashion week the most are those who work in fashion, garnering hearty and self-deprecating laughs. Not each set was focused on fashion, but each comedian was decked out in clothes from The RealReal accessorized with Susan Alexandra’s accessories—either custom-made or from the permanent collection. “We used a lot of looks that are evergreen pieces. I really don’t think it’s about seasonality, we bring things in, and we keep them as long as we love them.” 

For Korn, it was enjoyable to get back to the lighthearted and creative parts of her business. She stayed late in her office making special pieces for the show, including bags that were entirely embellished with random trinkets like a red beaded pepper or a sweet blue bow. It’s like a jewelry box, I say. Korn counters, “It’s like a junk drawer exploded.” The playfulness of Korn’s designs worked with the increasingly wild sets. When Cohen sang a song about how you can blame all your problems on planetary movements—“Thank god for astrology, there is literally nothing wrong with me”—an oversized pink beaded hair bow and a matching choker with a faux gemstone the size of Titanic’s heart of the ocean was the obvious sartorial pairing. Guests may not have seen an entirely new collection, but Korn did them a favor by giving them an hour of entertainment while they were technically still at a work event.