Talented and well-versed in fashion culture, she’s hard not to notice. From Georgia to New York City, Trois got to spend some time discussing Alyssa’s personal insights on style, culture and fashion journalism.
Hi Alyssa. Tell us about yourself! Where are you from? What does your day-to-day look like?
Hi! I'm Alyssa and I'm a fashion market writer at Refinery29, and a so-called "Instagrammer" on the side. I live in Williamsburg with my best friend and my pet bunny, Bean. I work like crazy during the week and then use my weekends to unwind and enjoy the city. On a typical weekday, I'm answering emails, writing, running from meeting to meeting and sometimes visiting brand and PR showrooms throughout NYC, maybe having breakfast with a friend or colleague in the morning and chilling out with my boyfriend in the evenings. On the weekends, you can find me trying the latest hip brunch spot, Snapchatting (Insta-storying?) with my bunny, trying a new workout class or just hanging out in the neighborhood. I moved around a bunch growing up, but I'm from Florida/Georgia, and I moved up to NYC as soon as I got the chance.
What did you want to be as a kid when thinking about growing up? Did you always want to be a fashion and lifestyle writer growing up?
I loved fashion from a very young age. As soon as I was tall enough to reach my dresser drawers, I would change outfits a million times and put on little fashion shows for my family. I took sewing classes and always loved shopping with my mom and sitting outside the dressing room as she tried things on. And, while writing was always my strongpoint in school growing up, I never connected the dots until after college. But, yes, I always knew I wanted to do something within the fashion world.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don't get ahead of yourself — every step of your life or career is just a small part of a much larger journey. Instead of rushing or projecting the finish line, just enjoy the ride. Oh, and when things get stressful, I always remember when someone told me that you can only eat an elephant a bite at a time...
Candid question—what outfit are you wearing right now? Head to toe!
Silver hoop earrings by Lisa Says Gah x Common Muse Co., a tee from Shop Super Street, vintage black denim cut-off shorts, and my favorite Zara black booties that I got like 3 years ago and are somehow still holding up.
How long have you been in New York City and what do you love about it most?
I've been in NYC for 5 years, and no lie, I think I love the food most. And the convenience of everything, which I tend to take for granted, probably.
NYC is such an amazing place, I'm sure you draw inspiration from many different things but tell us what inspires you most in the city?
Sitting down at a good coffee shop or park bench and just people-watching.
What are your go-to resources for keeping up on fashion and lifestyle?
Mostly Instagram and the Internet. I only buy print mags occasionally, but I love to go and flip through them. And, living in New York City helps — just stepping out on the street you're exposed to what's current in fashion and lifestyle.
What are three essentials you carry with you at all times?
Phone (& hopefully a charger or backup battery), wallet, makeup bag, headphones, water bottle, minty gum.
Besides writing. What is your creative outlet?
Definitely photography! That's part of why I like Instagram so much, and aside from my phone I also have a "real" camera and a Polaroid I use on the side.
What does your ideal day look like?
Sleeping in without an alarm, taking my time getting ready, meeting friends for a yummy brunch and a leisurely walk around the city on a not-too-hot, not-too-cold day, taking photos and stumbling upon new shops and spots along the way.
What is a quote or value that has resonated with you over the past few years?
The background on my phone is a quote that says, "In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed." I love this because it gives credit to taking time off, relaxing, and just living life in between all the hustle and bustle of being a writer in New York City. In fact, I think living life and chasing new experiences will only ever improve my writing, so you I'll never discount taking time to enjoy life as opposed to just working 24/7.
Who is your favorite writer?
This is SO tough to answer. These days in the digital space there are so many amazing writers on different sites that I love to read that it's difficult to keep track of them all, but I've got to shout out to Connie Wang here at Refinery29 who was a big part of why I fell in love with R29 years and years ago. She really opened my eyes to the idea of fashion being a personal, relatable, and smart topic to write about.
Musician, artist, influencer—who would you like to have a thirty minute opportunity to meet with?
Meet Lexie, this baker and artist has redefined our approach on what it means to be a creative. New York native, Lexie tells us how she got into baking and how she integrates her food with her art and visa versa. After opening up her own wholesale bakery this past June, Lexie sits down with us to discuss some of her thoughts on kitchen wardrobes as well as her creative perspective. The following portrait series was shot by Lexie in her Brooklyn studio.
Can you tell us a bit about your background culture? Where are you and your family from? Did your culture influence the way you learned to cook?
I’m a New York Jew. My family comes from Lithuania and Ukraine, but not for a long time now. My background has had essentially zero influence on the way I make food, and when it comes to the kitchen, my family had no part in teaching me. If anything, my lack of specific regional influence drove me to purposefully seek out others.
We know you’re an artist and a baker. Which came first and what influenced you to integrate the two?
When I was younger I was always writing, not making much visual art. I started baking when I was about 15, and making art in college. I’ve been hopscotching between those three for the last 7 years or so. I was never committing, always running from one to the other. I finally realized I needed to be doing both or I was going to resent both. My brain is not compartmentalized enough to differentiate- I just work through what I need to work through, one informs the other. Once I realized that you tell people how to define you by doing, I just did.
Did you ever attend culinary school? What was your first baking job?
I did not attend culinary school. My first baking job was on a farm in the jungle on Maui. It was technically for trade- I got an outdoor shower, lots of lectures about “vibes” and “manifestation”, and a garden full of food in exchange.
As someone who obviously loves art and food, how do you feel art influences food and vice versa?
I don’t think art influences food. I think that materials influence food, as does necessity and tradition, restrictions and resources. I think many of the same things can be said about art, however I don’t like to ride the “Food is Art” ticket. I like food precisely because it’s not art. It’s utilitarian, it’s critical, it’s fuel, and then it disappears. When I use food in my art is a prop or a medium- it is no longer food in the way it once was.
Congratulations on opening up your new wholesale bakery, Reluctance! Can you tell us a bit about the bakery and the journey it took to open up shop?
The bakery is really just a way for me to keep making the things I want to make without having to fit into guidelines, because I’m rarely successful at that. I’m very stubborn, and very independent. So it was a natural, if not entirely unavoidable, transition for me. I’ll be doing mostly events, recipe development and writing, and temporary installation bakeries, wherever I can find homes for them. The wholesale will come only when necessary- the demand is there but the logistical side of it is a headache. The first pop-up is at Cassette in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, happening right now. The goods tend to focus on methods that encourage patience and intention (a sign of my masochism), with flavors that would not normally be found mingling with one another.
It’s awesome how you physically integrate food into your art—where was this idea inspired from and do you have a few favorite go-to foods regarding texture and color that you like to use as materials?
At this point its convenience- I need to be making food constantly in order to pay the rent. If my art practice (whatever exists of it) includes food too then I can make more of it. I also find bread to be the most poetic thing on the planet, and it sneaks into everything that I do. The crossover was initially inspired by an attempt to visualize indigestion, as a way of accepting its omnipresence in my gut. I feel so in tune with materials used in baking: starches, eggs, sugars, acids- so they naturally find their way into a lot of what I make, even if it’s not edible in the end.
Besides art and food do you have any other hobbies or interest that you enjoy spending time doing? You used to write a lot—including poetry. Is this something you’re still interested in and do in your down time?
Words and writing are still a big, big love of mine, and drive a lot of my ambitions for down the line. I read a lot about regional culinary history, and am developing a column based around this with recipes created in tandem. I used to blacksmith and love hand carving objects from wood, which both potentially fall under the umbrella of “art” but feel more like craft to me, and they’re activities I wish I had more time for. I also like staring at old books and walking miles and miles by myself- or just generally massaging my social anxiety. I’m interested in doing more scholarly, anthropological research too, but that might need to wait for a while.
How would you define your own personal style?
Do you have a favorite visual artist? How about culinary artists?
I’d be lying if I said yes. I’ve never in my life had a genuine answer for this question. Magnus Nilsson and Francis Mallman are two easy favorite chefs, because they’re such wild outliers. They’re both totally nuts and ended up famous because of it. Magnus’ brain makes connections it ought not to and doesn’t question them, and Mallman is an epitomizing romantic, whose life is a bold exclamation point. The rest of us lie somewhere between them.
You’re such a creative person with so many creative outlets—baking, design, writing. Is there anything else you’d like to explore or perhaps integrate together in your future career?
I’m trying to teach myself to take film photos, because unlike the rest of Brooklyn, I missed that boat. I’m doing it to purely be able to document the still lifes I’ve been making, which has become a favorite way to waste time as of late. I’ve always been interested in publishing, and worked in the industry for a time when I was younger. That hasn’t totally left me yet. I founded and edited an illustrated food journal last year that came to a production halt for a thousand reasons, but hopefully will someday see the light of day. I’m also slowly designing some work wear with my sister, a residual impulse from teenage years when we were convinced fashion design was our chosen destiny, took classes at FIT, and filled notebooks with garment sketches. And I would like to explore just about everything else- social anthropology, chiropractics, oven construction from the Ottoman Empire, food policy, time travel, lamp design…
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’m 27 and I can’t drive. And, generally, I’m totally convinced I have no idea what I’m doing.
What are three things you always carry with you in the kitchen?
Good miso, a sharp knife (mine is by Brian Raquin, a brilliant French blacksmith), and a digital kitchen scale.
Do you have a favorite restaurant and/or bakery in New York City?
I’m a horribly inconsistent patron in general, but: Arcade Bakery and She Wolf for baked things, Achilles Heel for all else.
What’s your go-to place for a night off?
Achilles Heel- wine and blood toast.
What are your top 5 tracks?
No particular order: Clay Pigeons, by Blaze Foley; anything on Ram, by Paul McCartney; same with Africa, Amanaz; Untitled, D’angelo, duh; Ripple, Max Cooper.
We might be pushing it—care to share one of your favorite quick and easy go-to recipes with us?
My Gold Sauce, approximate ratio:
2 hard boiled yolks: 3-5 anchovies: 1 scant Tbsp good miso, emulsify with olive oil until runny. Add a little lemon, and a little more salt if necessary. Put on everything.
What was the last thing you did out of your comfort zone?
A toast at my twin sister’s wedding.
Do you have a go-to outfit for the kitchen? How about a night out? What’s one thing in your closet you appreciate the most and couldn’t go without?
In the kitchen I’m in Wranglers, an old tee, and too many braids. Out it’s maybe the same, but there’s also the chance of a belly button appearance. Lots of gold things and vintage button downs and those crappy chinese slip ons the old ladies wear to smoke their cigarettes. I’d be lying, though, if I said there was any real routine, other than most things being the color of sand.
Your style is impeccable. How has your style developed over the past decade?
I still wear a lot of the same clothes I did in high school. I was always a tomboy, sometimes more embracing of femininity than others. The difference is that I finally like myself for the most part, because I know myself better. It means I know what I want, I know my tendencies and my comforts. That’s the only quantifiable change. I’ve gone through phases of being more subdued, and more wily in my dress and my lifestyle, though they don’t always align. I think I’ve landed somewhere in the middle. I like to wear clothes that are worn in, that look like they’re supposed to be on my body.
Where do you hope to see yourself in a few years?
Somewhere taking no prisoners. Hopefully writing more and with access to an outdoor clay oven. Also, a few many more mistakes deep, and humbled by them.
Meet Ford, she's a branding prodigy and die hard creative based in Los Angeles. She was kind enough to let us drop by her Silver Lake studio (think rotating gallery space meets rare book store) to have a coffee and answer a few questions for our new interview series.
Whats your day job?
I'm employee #1 at a start-up which means I do a lot of different things every day and every month and every year. The gist of my work now is in branding and creative direction, but I've worked in almost every department save for IT. At the moment I'm concentrating on short form video specifically for storytelling on social and I'm so excited about it I can barely sleep at night. I'm naturally more interested in making and consuming long form content, books, films, etc. - there tends to be more meat there, less fat. But social storytelling is still so new and I don't think people have quite figured out how to bring a lot of depth to it. So that's what I'm consumed with now. Bringing as much depth and honesty and emotional connectivity to a format that is generally perceived as fleeting and superficial. But I think it's a really exciting time for content in general. I could go into this for like 5 hours though so I'll just leave you with that.
What is your typical day to day look like?
It's never been consistent for me and this is how I like it. Recently I've mostly been out shooting and in the office editing and ideating with the team. When I leave work I either go home and write or go out and socialize. On the weekends I write, shoot a bit on my own for pleasure, or find someone who will sit and drink coffee with me for 4 hours and talk about the meaning of it all. I have a frame guy downtown, Nick, he's the best conversationalist I've ever met but I pay him.
Who is your favorite writer? Why?
I like Bukowski, Joan Didion, Henry Miller, but there are really so many. Anyone who writes about Los Angeles (this place is a funny character), and anyone who doesn't abuse adjectives. Bukowski was an LA boy and he talked straight. I think he was the type of guy who wasn't afraid to tell you your ass hadn't been kicked enough. He also worked in the post office for a long time and didn't publish his first novel until 50. Not everyone has these grand stories. Didion's essays on the women's movement and self respect changed my life. Henry Miller's essay on turning 80 is hands down the best thing I have ever read.
Can you describe your personal style in a few words?
No. I think talking about style is like talking about speaking French. Personally I would rather just speak French. It's a language like any other, except it's better than French or English because it requires no talking. Which is such a relief because I talk all the time. It's similar to the way I feel when I hear people at a gallery talking about the art. Their interpretation, my interpretation, it will always fall so short from that feeling you get when you just sit back, relax and consume it. I think that sounded like a very pretentious answer so I'm sorry about that.
The first thing you miss about LA when you’re away is….
My sweet little spot near the post-apocalyptic crater formerly known as the Silver Lake reservoir.
Can you share one story that has felt like a real “LA moment” to you? Something you witnessed or that may have happened to you that felt like it could have only happened in LA/California?
One summer I spent a lot of time with the cast of Mighty Ducks. My office also had a good run at the Chateau Marmont. And Jerry Weintraub told me he could sense my wild side.
Where do you like to shop in LA?
I really don't like to shop. But it happens to me on occasion. Usually on eBay or at thrift stores in Highland Park or Eagle Rock. I think Khaite, Trois, Pari Desai, Staud, Realisation, and Rouje are doing cool things. And The Row is all time.
What is LA’s best-kept secret?
The guys who know the real answer to this question are all very rich, very old, and started in the mail room. As a rule, they stay clear of press. This is my only lead.
What five things do you always carry with you?
I carry 5 rubber bands on my left arm. They come in handy from time to time. So it's not always 5. That would be weird.
Your favorite cocktail is...
I always thought this was good advice:
"Mixed drinks: bad for you, trouble for the barkeep."
- Marlene Dietrich
We're talking about a metamorphosis
We're talking about going from a caterpillar to a butterfly
We're talking about how to become a butterfly
I mean: the caterpillar isn't walking around saying: man I'll soon be a butterfly
because: as long as he's busy being a caterpillar
he can't be a butterfly.
It's only when caterpillarness is done
that one starts to be a butterfly
and that again is part of this paradox
you cannot rip away caterpillarness
- Ram Daas
Ford wears the Mulder turtleneck dress in black.
Photography: TARA SHEREE DOLLIE @tarasheree