Alcalay grew up in New York City with a sewing needle in her hand after immigrating from Vietnam with her family at the age of 3.
Designing clothing became her first love as she worked side-by-side with her mother who worked in factories. Alcalay’s extensive and early training was introduced by her mother, self-taught tailor, sample-maker, and pattern-maker. Alcalay acquired the secrets of her trade working alongside her mother in gritty overcrowded manufaturing factories and later in the basement of their home where heaps of clothing awaited completion. With no seam unpressed, and no hem overlooked, Alcalay’s well trained eyes became sharper with every stitch. It was an unconventional and oddly auspicious upbringing for a natural-born designer.
At the tender age of 4, Alcalay was sewing, making and designing clothing while most children her age were coloring with crayons. Alcalay’s first few garments were not for dolls but for herself complete with bound buttonholes and lined in silk. Clothing and design comes as naturally as speaking her mother tongue.
“Becoming a Designer was not a choice that I made. It is simply who I am.”
As a young adult with an insatiable appetite for more industry experience, Alcalay found her footing with seasoned people of her trade.
Pursuing her dream, Alcalay attended Parson’s School of Design in NYC and spent a year abroad in Paris. While is Paris, Alcalay interned at Christian Lacroix. Returning to NYC, inspired, Alcalay continued her studies and won the renowned “Parsons’s Golden Thimble” award; the highest honor for design at Parsons from mentor, Michael Vollbract.
Upon graduation and with the understanding of craft and creativity involved in designing and making clothing in tow, Alcalay decided to focus on the business aspect of the fashion industry, her customer.
In 2002, Alcalay opened her boutique, KIWI in NYC featuring her eponymous collection of “Made to Measure” clothing. For the past 10 years, Alcalay expresses her ultra-feminine sensibility through her label’s made-to-order coats, dresses, and separates. Alcalay designs pieces intended for timelessness. They are the clothes in your wardrobe that have their own life and are eternally beautiful. Alcalay launched her namesake “ready to wear” collection in 2011.