Drawing from family cultural heritage,
strolling around Positano and bringing the finest of the Mediterranean to Australia
Today we’re glad to introduce Heleena Trahanas and Alexandra Heard, the creative minds behind Australian online destination ALEX AND TRAHANAS.
Thought as a lifestyle project, ALEX AND TRAHANAS is more than a concept store. Bringing the finest of the Mediterranean products to Australia through curated stories about the Travel essentials, the Aperitivo hour or the Apulian summer, the project also features stories on inspiring people and places that are part of Heleena and Alexandra creative journey.
Today they present their new edition La Bella Figura, an effortless stroll around Positano shot by Jake Terrey and featuring Joanne Palmaro.
Yes, it includes pieces from Le Isole collection. And yes, they sit with us to talk this through.
LBH: Hi Heleena and Alex, so glad to have you in our Style talk series.
A&T: Thank you so much! Naturally we are so excited to be here with Les Belles Heures, love what you do!
LBH: Thank you so much for those words. Where did you grow up?
HT: Sydney, Australia, by the sea; although I’m of Greek heritage, which has meant lots of travels to Greece and the Mediterranean along the way, filled with many delicious meals.
AH: Also from Sydney, Australia.
LBH: What was your connection with lifestyle and design growing up?
HT: My Greek heritage shaped the lifestyle I had, my grandparents arrived on a boat in the 1960s on their own at the age of 15 and created a life here in Australia, their drive and passion for life have definitely rubbed off on me. I have been surrounded by a family who loves to live to their fullest and celebrate every moment of being. My childhood was filled with mountains of Greek food, my grandmothers were very good cooks, (even wine sometimes) it was our way of life, to be surrounded by loved ones and to cherish these times with all the good things in life.
The design part I think just happened along the way. I started traveling with my parents from a fairly young age, which fueled my interest and curiosity for lifestyle and design. Being exposed to different cultures from a young age I think has led to my interest in design. As a child I remember subscribing to lots of fashion and design magazines, I was fascinated and interested in their content, which eventually led me to land my first job which was in magazines, in food, fashion, and design.
AH: My mother and grandmother were both strong creative women who really shaped my love for design, food, and fashion. My grandmother, an artist from New Zealand designed and made all her (very chic) outfits. She taught my mum who went on to have a few small fashion labels, and my mother taught me. I was brought up surrounded by rolls of fabric, cutting tables and car trips to the makers. I was also enthralled by magazines, and really thought I had made it when I started working in the magazine industry for my first proper job (where I met the lovely Heleena).
My mother also loved to cook and entertain. It’s something that we all love doing together with my sister as well and hopefully my daughter one day too! I feel like I have had many lives - working a lot in food with some brilliant inspiring chef/creatives that I learnt a great deal from (and still admire today). The art of entertaining has been my long-standing love through many different jobs and experiences.
LBH: What’s the story behind ALEX AND TRAHANAS, from the initial idea to what it is today?
A&T: It happened quite organically. We worked in food, fashion, design and lifestyle magazines such as Gourmet Traveller, Vogue Living, and Vogue Australia, at the start of our careers. We then went on our separate ways and through our common love for travel, we kept in touch and connected again at the perfect time to dream up and create ALEX AND TRAHANAS, a lifestyle project, which is celebrated through timeless fashion and entertaining pieces.
We really wanted to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to Australian waters and create our own little European lifestyle through the curated world of ALEX AND TRAHANAS which includes linen garments which are designed and made in Australia, Apulian ceramics to elevate life’s delicious ceremonies of long rolling lunches, and the many more treasures which we bring back from our European travels, along with collaborations with artists and designers we admire. ALEX AND TRAHANAS is a way of life, a way of being, which echoes life lived in the Mediterranean
LBH: Where did that passion for all-things Mediterranean come from?
HT: My Greek heritage and traveling to Europe from a young age. I still vividly remember my first family trip to Europe.
AH: I was taken by the staggering beauty of the Mediterranean in my 20’s when I really began to understand the outlook of the people that lived there, their work to live mentality and family, design and food of course! We both dream to (properly) chase the summers one day and have a base in each hemisphere for 6 months at a time.
LBH: What are your favorite spots in the Mediterranean?
HT: Puglia in the south of Italy, Ischia, Hydra, Milos, and the Peloponnese.
AH: Also Puglia, Sicily, Hydra and Kastellorizo (to name a few - there are so many).
LBH: How would you define the Mediterranean aesthetics?
A&T: Blue, white, green, effortless, delicious, relaxed, authentic.
LBH: What’s your relation to Italy?
A&T: Love. Italy, what’s there not to love? The food, wine, architecture, design, fashion, the sea, and the list goes on, bellissimo!
LBH: You just released La Bella Figura, a story shot in Positano by Jake Terrey starring Joanne Palmaro and introducing your new edition of curated lifestyle pieces; what was the initial idea behind it?
A&T: With this collection, we really wanted to build on what we had already created last year. We have added some simple core linen/cotton blend garments to the traveler’s wardrobe, which also includes the beautiful Les Belles Heures silk scarves, and introduced new hand-painted Apulian ceramics, Bitossi wine tumblers, a jewelry collaboration with Australian designer and artist Louise Olsen and to bring these pieces to life, we couldn’t think of anybody more perfect than Joanne Palmaro, our “La Bella Figura”, who modeled for us and was photographed by the talented Jake Terrey.
Joanne embodies the joy of life, she is a lover and has a beautiful spirit and soul which Terrey was able to capture as we traveled around Positano, a town in which Joanne grew as a person and a woman and where she ultimately found her sense of peace and fulfillment.
LBH: We must say we are quite proud to be part of such a story that feels so natural, relaxed and refined at the same time; how did you come up with such an effortless feel?
A&T: Thank you so much, it’s so nice to hear that. We are really drawn to the effortlessness of the Mediterranean way of life and aim to convey this through ALEX AND TRAHANAS. We have admired Joanne for some time now and just love the way she lives life so lovingly and effortlessly, we wanted it to be authentic and create a feeling of nostalgia.
LBH: The story features Ponza, 23h11, Procida, 20h52 and Stromboli, 21h57 from Le Isole collection; could you tell us more about that curation?
A&T: We love the palette, deep blues and greens representative of the Mediterranean waters and burgundy reminiscent of the beautiful sunsets, Italian royalty, delicious red wine.
LBH: How did you find out about Les Belles Heures?
A&T: Through a common admirer of ALEX AND TRAHANAS and Les Belles Heures; Yolanda Edwards of YOLO Journal.
LBH: Ok, that's so cool! What was the first impression you had when discovering our brand?
A&T: Effortless and chic.
LBH: Could you tell us more about how you curate the selection of your lifestyle store?
A&T: We curate our own little Europe for ALEX AND TRAHANAS by our endless endeavor for seeking out beauty, unique artisans and craftsmanship throughout our travels. We constantly picture the setting of a long lunch table with our friends and family, and about all the little elements that could make a lovely lunch experience even more beautiful and special. From what people are wearing and feel good in, to what plates or glassware they are eating/drinking from. We believe that creating a beautiful setting and experience for the ones closest to you is an act of love and keep this in mind when sourcing and curating new pieces for our store.
LBH: Beyond curating lifestyle pieces, ALEX AND TRAHANAS is also a design studio; what do you do through that studio?
A&T: We design our own line of linen and linen blend garments which are also made in Australia. We recently collaborated with Masseria Moroseta, a modern farmhouse located in Ostuni, Puglia, south of Italy.
The exclusive collection was designed for the “slow life” at Masseria Moroseta by Carlo Lanzini who sees like-minded guests from around the world enjoy long, glorious summer days at the modern, minimalist farmhouse. The palette of white, navy and aqua stripe resembles the neighbouring Adriatic sea, the architecture of the white idyllic farmhouse and the picturesque pool that is set upon hectares of ancient, organic, Apulian olive groves.
We have also collaborated with Louise Olsen, one of Australia’s most recognised designers and artists to create a jewelry collection for La Bella Figura. Pasta, pasta and pasta inspired our classic gold hoops, which we have called Chifferi after Chifferi pasta, a round pasta shape; Amalfi lemons also inspired our Limone stud.
LBH: How do you source the brands you work with?
A&T: Through our travels and the desire we have to elevate life’s everyday ceremonies we are forever exploring.
LBH: What is lifestyle to you?
HT: A way of life, a way of being.
AH: Balance, beauty, friends and family.
LBH: Who would you like to read in the next issues of our Style talks?
A&T: Joanne Palmaro, Rossana Orlandi, Simon Jacquemus, Stephanie Huxley, Giorgia Eugenia Goggi, Chris Kontos (from Kennedy magazine), Romain Laprade, Rosita Missoni, Giovanni Dario Laudicina!
LBH: Pretty cool list, we'll work on this! La Belles Figura just launched; where could we find it?
LBH: Thank you so much for this Heleena, Alex, it’s been so refreshing.
A&T: Thank you so much for having us, it’s been a pleasure.