Alessandra researches and writes about twentieth-century, American department stores. Her dissertation, Designed to Sell: The Evolution of Merchandising and Display in Mid-Twentieth Century Department Stores, explores the postwar changes in department store interiors and the new culture of shopping that emerged during that time period. Her work tells a visual story of the development of modern merchandising techniques; it considers store interior design and organization, fixtures and modes of display, and theatrical promotional events.
Alessandra also highlights the widely forgotten work of industrial design greats, such as Raymond Loewy, and introduces readers to new characters who altered the field of retail design, specifically Eleanor Le Maire, a woman who significantly impacted a world commanded by men. Her research includes discussions of familiar stores, such as Neiman Marcus, JC Penney, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales, and Gimbels.
She has spent countless hours in library archives across the country, scoured the world for lost photographs, and pieced together a fascinating story that lays the groundwork for understanding how modern consumers experience merchandise in a retail setting.
A few of her favorite images: