Interview

Alexandra Kotur and Fiona Kotur Marin Meet the self-made sisters ahead of the curve in the worlds of art, beauty, and fashion.

Two sisters ahead of the curve in the worlds of art, beauty, and fashion.

Meet Alexandra Kotur and Fiona Kotur Marin, two sisters blessed with immaculate fashion sense and writing ability. Both born with recognizable talent, it is only appropriate that their last name describe the shared attribute for which they are both well known.

Alexandra, an American author and fashion journalist, first served as Style Director at US Vogue before becoming Creative Director at Town & Country magazine. This international taste-maker also belongs to the International Best-Dressed List.

Fiona, who graduated from Wellesley with degrees in Art and English, quickly established herself in the world of fashion design. After working her way through the ranks of Ralph Lauren and The GAP, she moved to Hong Kong with her family where she started her own accessories company, Kotur (World of Kotur). Her shoes and evening clutches, made from vintage brocade, are now sold worldwide.

Both sisters shared more about their family, their beauty, and their passions.

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YOUR INSPIRATION
For starting your business

Fiona

I moved from New York to Hong Kong with my husband and two small sons following a long career in design. Despite the change, I wanted to start my own business, and I had all the manufacturing contacts from my previous jobs at Ralph Lauren and GAP.

I wanted to give the materials life again.

The actual inspiration came when I happened upon a trove of vintage brocade remnants in a Kowloon warehouse. These hidden fabrics were so beautiful that I decided to convert them into small bags. I wanted to give the materials life again.

Scoop, Bergdorf, and Browns London immediately picked them up, so I bought the remaining brocade inventory and started covering minaudiéres with the fabric. I also used snakeskin and other indigenous materials I found in the region, and that has been the basis of my business ever since.

How to stay creative

Alexandra

Indigenous and untouched woods surround us, so the absolute splendor that I see outside my window each day inspires me.

I’ve gone from a hectic life in New York City to living in the country in Northern Westchester. Our house is off a dirt road within a 750-acre nature preserve, the first land in America to be acquired by The Nature Conservancy. Indigenous and untouched woods surround us, so the absolute splendor that I see outside my window each day inspires me. “The world is but a canvas to our imagination,” wrote Thoreau.

YOUR CITIES
What you love most

Alexandra

I like cities where I have worked and where I have roots as they allow me to really experiment and explore and then retreat to a sanctuary.

I grew up in New York City, where my mother and some of my dearest friends still live, so it remains close to my heart.  I also love London, as more of my family lives there, and I spent the early days of my career working at Vogue House in Hanover Square. I like cities where I have worked and where I have roots, as they both allow me to experiment and explore and then retreat into a sanctuary.

Best places to shop for the home

Fiona

The best place to shop for the home is in Cebu, an island in the Philippines. I work with two different workshops there to make furniture and accessories for my house, from ceiling-height shagreen mirrors to penshell inlaid end tables.

The workshop in Cebu has been there for generations and I loved being able to choose different bird and flower designs, which bring a bit of nature into urban Hong Kong.

I lined my husband’s closet room in parchment panels, designed by our architect and me and delivered from Cebu. My dressing room is lined in a garden mural of silk panels, custom painted in Shanghai. The workshop in Cebu has been there for generations and I loved being able to choose different bird and flower designs, which bring a bit of nature into urban Hong Kong. One advantage of living in Hong Kong is being able to create custom-made items.

Apart from that, I am a huge 2am shopper on 1stDibs.com, and have purchased many vintage pieces for our house online, my favorite being our 1950s Jensen brass palm-tree floor light.

A night on the town

Fiona

New York and Hong Kong will always be my favorite cities for a night out on the town. Both cities thrive 24 hours a day, and neither sleeps (though I cannot take full advantage with a family of four sons at home). In Hong Kong, a great evening usually begins with a star ferry ride across the harbour, a sight that never grows old to me. I love to go to the cultural center by the pier, where Hong Kong hosts its own ballet company as well as many visiting international companies. I look forward to seeing American Ballet Theatre this coming March. For dinner, I love Duddell’s for their Peking Duck, and then a drink at Sevva on the rooftop afterwards.

Duddell’s Garden Terrace

YOUR DAY
Morning beauty routine

Fiona

I keep my beauty routine very simple, and it rarely varies. I have been true to Estée Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair for 20 years.

In the morning I use TATCHA’s cleansing oil and silk cream. A bit of Bobbi Brown eyebrow pencil and eyeliner completes my routine. Mascara annoys me so I dye my eyelashes every month.

Favorite designers for day wear

Alexandra

My days are very different from what they used to be, and what I wear has changed. At Vogue, I dressed in a uniform of sorts – a tailored white shirt and grey pants with flats and my Verdura link bracelet and watch. My closet was filled with rows of white shirts and grey pants along with evening gowns as I was out most nights covering events for the magazine. Now, my clothes for the day have become more colorful and bohemian. Most days, I’ll wear long and colorful wrap-around skirts from India paired with ballet flats or soft and unembellished moccasins from Minnetonka or Bastein Industries. For evenings out in the city, I always wear Carolina Herrera or Barbara Tfank.

Favorite designers for evening wear

I love drama in the evening.

Fiona

I have quite a bit of variety among my evening clothes, but do own several versions of the Le Smoking suit as I love mine well-cut. I have a vintage YSL, and a newer Gucci version. Other than that, I seem to have a variety of garment bags decorated with feather. I love drama in the evening.

Evening relaxation

Alexandra

To relax, I listen to Full Length, André Leon Talley’s weekly radio show on Andy Cohen’s Serius XM channel. I also enjoy his Podcast on Vogue. In the car, I listen to the app Slow News in French, as I’m determined to one day be close to fluent.  Late at night, I’ll watch an episode or two from Charlie Rose, or call my sister in Hong Kong. Though she’s often at her KOTUR office or running around on appointments, she always makes the time for a quick catch-up. While exercising, I’ll listen to a Terry Gross interview or, when I’d rather be home gardening (which is often), any music with a strong beat that will keep my reluctant body moving.

Fiona

To relax, I love sitting with my husband on our roof garden with our favorite bottle of wine: Ca’ Del Grevino. It comes from our dear friends’ vineyard. It is peaceful to sit up in the garden, in the middle of the Hong Kong, under stars and city lights.

YOUR BEAUTY

Must-have skincare products

Alexandra

On my face I start with SkinCeuticals’ Physical Fusion UV Defense. When I was Creative Director of Town & Country, the Beauty Director recommended it. I love this product as it’s so light and yet really blocks out the sun. During the day, I always wear a hat and usually a long sleeved cotton shirt. I prefer to protect my skin through coverage rather than creams or sprays.

My godmother and legendary former Vogue Beauty Director, Andrea Robinson, recently wrote a great book called, Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks and Truths for Women 50+. The book is filled with useful beauty tips for all ages, like using a cream blush to blend with your moisturizer, and trading out lipstick for a lip stain,  something like Laura Mercier’s Mulberry (which is now discontinued, sadly). It comes in a little container that I always carry with me along with my cream blush.

(Editor’s Note: Try RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek product which suits both needs well. And Laura Mercier’s latest Liquid Lipsticks achieve a similar staining-effect.)

Favorite makeup products

Fiona

I have been true to Bobbi Brown makeup products since I was in my 20s.  After Bergdorf’s opened, I ran from my office at Ralph Lauren on a day when her company was offering makeovers. I was the first one there, and Bobbi herself made me over. I have remained true to those products ever since.

Favorite Perfume

Alexandra

My favorite perfumes are Daphne by Commes des Garçons as well as Dominique Ropion’s Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle. The very talented jewelry designer Peggy Stephaich introduced me to these two scents.

YOUR NIGHTSTAND

A good book or magazine

Alexandra

I have a pile of books on my night table that are a mish-mash of memoirs and gardening books. The 2 books that I am reading now are: One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty, and The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches From the Vanishing World by Alex Shoumatof.

Favorite tea

Fiona

My favorite tea is Lapsang Souchong for its smoky flavor, best with milk and sugar. It is a black tea from the Fujian province of China.

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