Somsack Sikhounmuong — formerly head of design for Madewell, then J.Crew — now runs the cool and casual brand Alex Mill. “Alex Mill was originally a menswear company, and we loved the way men dress in uniforms, waking up in the morning and not having to overthink things,” he says. “The women’s line was inspired by that.” Here, to kick off a new Cup of Jo column about people’s favorite things, are eight things he swears by…
1. Snack food: Prince Street Pizza in New York City is fantastic. It’s like, have some pizza with your pepperoni.
2. Hotel: Bourg Tibourg is a tiny hotel in Paris. The jewelbox rooms are so small, you can barely open your suitcase. But the Marais location is perfect, the lobby is beautiful and the hotel even smells amazing.
3. Fall clothes: Our Alex Mill women’s corduroy blazer is slouchy and almost feels like a cardigan. And nothing says fall like corduroy.
4. Movie: I’ve always been a huge fan of Isaac Mizrahi; as a kid, I’d sketch over his sketches. When Unzipped came out, I had just graduated high school and was heading to New York to study fashion design — Isaac was starring in the movie and his costars were all my favorite models. It was the ultimate “me” movie. Back then, my sister worked at Blockbuster and she may have brought it home to stay at our house — a loving home that would really appreciate it.
5. Book: Fallingwater Rising by Franklin Toker. I’m a Frank Lloyd Wright fanatic, and Falling Water in Pennsylvania is like the Mount Everest of his architectural creations. I love the color scheme of that living room — I used the same colors in my apartment. Even picking colors now for Alex Mill, I go back to those primary reds and yellows.
6. Fragrance: I love unisex fragrances and Helmut Lang is musky and very sexy.
7. Luggage: During my years of using only backpacks, I’d go on trips with friends and they’d be lightly rolling their suitcases while I was lugging all this stuff. Suddenly, I’m like, NO MORE. Rimowa suitcases are a life changer. I’ve been putting stickers all over mine, so I can recognize it — I get them from record shops or skate shops.
8. Bathroom product: The smell of Skin Trip is so great; I live for anything coconut — it’s my inner Thai. Plus, bar soap is always practical and classic.
Thank you, Somsack! (And please feel free to let us know any requests for people you’d like us to feature in this new column!)