Her style is another intriguing part of the series, blending that of a slick talk show host with a tinge of Old Hollywood. I’ve always admired Ziwe’s off-duty style, too. It’s funky and flirty. She loves large hats, corsets, and all things fur-trimmed. She’s a happy-go-lucky femme fatale of the Instagram era. So her carefree quirky vibe fits perfectly with Korn’s universe of fun bags that come adorned with butterflies or in the shape of martini glasses. Even better, the two already know each other. Korn was a fan of Ziwe’s (“I slid into her DMs. I was thirsty!” she tells me) and vice versa (“I would always see the Susan Alexandra bags and say, ‘Dammit, why am I not friends with her yet?’” Ziwe recalls.) Call it Instagram beshert.
Ziwe and I meet at Korn’s store, a former tattoo parlor sandwiched between a massage spot and a laundromat. Ziwe is dressed for the occasion: She wears a huge Emma Brewin hat, a black Prada puffer, black leather pants, and holds a Hello Kitty Susan Alexandra bag. When we arrive a day before its launch party, the finishing touches to the store are being made by a contractor named Jacek, who has been working on the site since May. “He cried because I cried,” says Korn about her emotions as the spot turned into its shiny final iteration.
After all, this moment is a big one for Korn. She first got her start making bracelets and rings at home, which has now transformed into a full-blown brand with a rabid following. (She counts the likes of Gigi Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski as fans.) At her store, Korn gets a bit nostalgic for the shtetl years of yore: She is Jewish and takes pride that her store has opened on the Lower East Side, a once hub of flourishing Jewish-owned businesses. “Here I am back in this area and opening my schmatta store,” says Korn. “Of all the streets, this is the street.…”
However, the new Susan Alexandra headquarters is neither borscht nor bubbe. Instead, it’s like being inside one of Korn’s bags—like Jonah within the whale, if the whale’s insides were a prismatic bucket of candy. Dreamed up by Korn and brought to life with Argentine designer Lula Galeano, everything here is colorful and tiled. “I wanted it to be a place where people could come in and play,” she says. It’s selfie heaven: There’s no doubt that TikTokers and Instagrammers will rush there to capture the scene.