Alyssa Lesser moved to New York exactly two days after graduating high school. “I had a plan,” the designer behind the just-tough-enough jewelry line Less explains. “New York is where everything was happening, and I find the people to be really inspiring. It’s a good place for designers to be.”It was the summer of 2008, and her agenda was to live with her brother in Harlem, intern with Vena Cava in Brooklyn, and start the womenswear program at Parsons in the fall—she is currently finishing up her last semester and developing her thesis collection. That’s right: She’s still in school.Alyssa first started making earrings out of chain, sequins, and random materials like old Barbie shoes as a teenager. “It was very much in the Betsey Johnson vein of things,” she admits. And in 2009, inspired by the industrial landscape of Gowanus and bored by the “shiny, fussy” accessories she was
seeing everywhere, she concocted a bracelet from rusted chain and hardware-store finds. A friend saw the bracelet and convinced her that she could sell it. Soon enough, her first collection was at OAK in NYC.
Though she started with a plan, Alyssa still doesn’t have a lot of systems, per se. “I never sit down and say, ‘Okay, I am going to design a piece right now.’ I’ll be out and about, and I will get a random idea and will go home and start working on something,” she says. “Or I’ll find a stone or something I really like, and it evolves from there. My process is really weird, I think.” —maggie dolan
BEHIND THE SCENES
Yes, this edition comes with a soundtrack.
This designer is all about being a punk-ass adult.