With only one collection under her belt, Alyssa Lesser has already got the industry buzzing with her selection of 1980s-inspired embossed denim.
Get to know Alyssa Lesser: The ex-Marc Jacobs designer is making waves right now. After she spotted a man wearing an embossed denim jacket in Brooklyn, she came up with the idea to revive these retro looks and quickly went about scouring vintage stores in L.A. until she found another jacket with the same treatment.
Cut to 2015 and Lesser has already created her debut 20-piece collection of oversized denim jackets, skater skirts and cropped flares fused with her now signature eye-catching surface treatments such as embossed custom prints, embroidery and metallic leather appliqué. The range is constructed entirely in the United States, with fine materials, and designed in NY and LA. Considering the level of personalisation that goes into each garment, Lesser’s price point is competitive compared to the other luxury denim brands out there, which can go into the thousands: Lesser’s pieces range from $365 to $665.
To find out more on the whats tipped to be one of the most anticipated brands for A/W 16, we spoke to the designer on her inspirations, love for denim and how she creates those amazing 3D denim effects:
WGSN: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the appliqué and embossed designs?
AL: I change the textile designs and washes each season in accordance to what is inspiring me, and this season I was looking at a lot of outsider art and works by Niki de Saint Phalle. I really take to the playful, childlike quality of Niki’s work, and wanted to incorporate that in a more mature and graphic way.
WGSN: How does the process work for these, it looks very labour intensive.
AL: It is extremely labour intensive! All of our surface treatments are created through embroidery, and there is a lot of stitching going on under the surface layer of the garment. The embossing requires a lot of pre-planning: digital art and template manipulation by size before pieces are even embossed/embroidered. Our leather applique items are fully constructed and washed first, then de-constructed to hand-place laser-cut leather pieces in just the right spots, stitched on, and re-sealed back up.
WGSN: This is the second collection since the debut line, how have you evolved the collection going forward?
AL: We built the first collection upon the foundation of 5 deeply considered silhouettes – denim fitted how I wanted it to fit, and classics with a twist. Each season we add a few new styles slowly – it is important to me for everything to fit really well and feel both timeless and uniquely special. The first season we worked with denim from Italy, and this time around we have used all domestic denim, which makes it a little easier to tweak and experiment. We started working with dyes and new colours, and finding ways to distress them down to feel vintage and textural, without being a complete acid-wash situation. I am really excited about the crimson pieces, and the new colours we are working on for spring! We are also going to be adding some tees to the line.
WGSN: Where does your love for denim stem from?
AL: I have loved denim ever since I was a little punky teen shredding and drawing on my pants, and have always been drawn to its origins in American subcultures and tendency for customisation. My brain comes together in some sort of weird fusion of Americana and images of the Ramones in well-worn Levis. I tend to be either underdressed or overdressed, and I loved the idea of creating denim pieces that were evening-appropriate, and as special feeling as some of the other high-design garments out there.
WGSN: Is there a favourite era of denim that you particularly love?
Al: I have a lot of love for the street customisation that went on in the late 60’s-early 70s, as well as the vivid colours and experimentation with dye and wash in the 80s and early 90s. Denim was really more expressive and statement-making during those times, and I hope to nod and wink to that in my line!
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