“I started modeling when I was super young. I kept getting scouted, but it always felt very scam-y, so I was really, really hesitant. A friend of my dad's—a model—insisted that I give it a try. At first I did one or two shoots in LA to get started, and then I was sent to New York. There, my first shoot was with Russian Vogue, and then Italian Vogue, and then they flew me to London for Stella McCartney. That fast. I was 15 and I had never left the country before. Stella McCartney was huge—my first big ad campaign. At this point, 14 years later, I’ve shot with everyone. One time I was shooting some editorial and they put this pixie cut wig on me. The hairstylist started cutting the wig on my head without properly tucking back my [real] hair, and he ended up cutting a big chunk off of the front. I was hysterical. It’s silly, but you know, that’s your livelihood. I had to hide that chunk for a while.
Modeling has helped me live all over. After growing up in LA, I lived in New York for 13 years, Austin, Texas for a little while, and then Paris and London. I developed a brand called Pilgrim before I moved back to LA. It started with the idea of a hat box—I liked the idea of bags I could carry my hats around in, or take for the weekend, but I could never find the right ones. I wanted to sort of go back to the ‘60s and ‘70s, to how great that luggage was, and all the flight attendants with the hat boxes. Those images inspired me because they were practical but cool. So it’s all sort of like that. It all fits into the overhead compartment and the seat in front of you. We’re just about to do our second collection. And then I’m selling vintage too, which I curate. When I was a kid, we would go into Hollywood and vintage hunt every Sunday. There’s this vintage place called Jet Rag, and they get clothes in bulk—in crates. Before they sort through everything, they open up the crates and let everyone else sort through it first. You have to really commit, but everything’s a dollar. Now I like to go to this Hidden Treasures place—there’s always something good in there.
For my hair, I get balayage three times a year at Suite Caroline in New York. Lena does it. She’s the best—she has such a good eye for colors and tones, and what’s going to look best with your skin. In LA, Christina Cessna at Martinez-Samuel Salon cuts my hair. She’s incredible. Two years ago I got bangs, and I think I’m going to be a lifer—I really love them. They soften my strong features. It’s nice not to feel like, ‘Bah! Eyebrows! Lips!’ I have wavy hair, so I always blow out my bangs and the front bits with a round brush and Oribe’s Dry Texture Spray. But I don’t blowdry the rest of my hair, I let it dry naturally, and then it all sort of blends together. Other than that I never have to do anything to my hair, except for like, dry shampoo when I don’t wash it for two days. I get it cut every three weeks, and that’s kind of my trick. I find that people struggle with their hair and want to use a lot of products to fix it, but a good cut and regular trims are all it takes. Get rid of those split ends! I just cut off a couple centimeters each time. Another thing I like to tell people is that a lot of people get bangs, but then decide it doesn’t work on their face. I think it’s because they cut these crazy layers in the front. Don’t get layers with bangs! Or get long layers. That’s why everyone loves Jane Birkin’s hair, or Francoise Hardy’s.
Even though I’m a product fiend, I only use a few things on my face every day. I have sensitive skin, so I use a gentle cleanser from Dermalogica to wash my face and to take off my makeup. And then I moisturize with a super creamy moisturizer year-round, doesn’t matter if it’s a hundred degrees outside, I’m still using the thickest moisturizer. It’s La Mer, and sometimes when I’m at home and I’m feeling a little bit dry, I use Weleda on my face. I think most people don’t moisturize enough—everyone’s afraid of getting their pores clogged. I love oils, and I love really thick creams. Your skin craves it, especially with all the crazy environmental shit that it’s dealing with. If I’m putting makeup on, I like using this Glossier Super Glow Serum in the morning. The one thing that I’m always experimenting with is serum. I have a really uneven skintone, and I get dark spots, so I’ve been playing around with some Skinceuticals stuff for that. I use the Discoloration Defense and their eye cream. And I like SK-II’s essence—it just makes me nice and glowy, and it adds a layer of moisture. I love Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask, and then I use the SK-II sheet masks, or the eye masks. And the Boscia ones that peel off. That’s the thing I’m doing all the time at home instead of facials. I never get facials. Never. I’m just like, less is more. Don’t mess with it.
It takes me about 10 minutes to do my makeup. I am always waiting for my husband—it’s infuriating. I like to be able to see my freckles—that’s a big thing for me, so I always go for glowy, natural skin. In terms of eye makeup, I’m sort of a minimalist. Mascara, eyeliner, and that’s just my jam normally. I’ll do my makeup, and then I’ll take a shower. I like the way the steam sets everything and makes it dewy—it’s almost like misting it. And then you’re really fresh when you get out—you don’t feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t move [my face],’ you know? So I typically do a tinted moisturizer and concealer. I always change them. There’s one from Laura Mercier I’ve been using, and I just tried Glossier’s Skin Tint, which I like. I’m always trying to find the best one. For concealer, I go between this Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion one, and then Marc Jacobs has a good one, too. They’re dewy, which is a theme here. I don’t like anything too matte. Everything has to sort of be moisturizing at the same time.
My eyebrows are really important to me, so I normally use Boy Brow for them. Even with the bangs, they peek through! When I was a kid I had a unibrow—like fully connected. I actually got laser hair removal, just in the middle. Hair still comes in, but it’s subtle. For lips I use this Glossier one in Cake every day. It’s a peachy nude that’s perfect on me. I wear red lipstick sometimes, but it’s a lot on my face, and I don’t usually like standing out that way. When I am feeling like I want to, I’ll just sort of smudge it on. I like this RMS palette, and I’ll use that sometimes because it’s subtle. RMS is my favorite thing, I use it all. The Buriti bronzer, the highlighter, the blush. I use that blush, and Cloud Paint in Beam. I obviously really like peachy pinky ‘60s kinds of colors. And Jo Malone Red Roses is my go-to fragrance. I love the smell of roses.
I like these Marc Jacobs eye shadows for a little eyelid contour if I’m going to an event or something. This one is called Edgitorial. The pigment is really strong, so you don’t have to use that much. And then I’m an eyeliner girl. I know how to do it, and it’s good on my face. Always liquid. Mostly black, but brown sometimes—I do like a brown if it’s a daytime thing. My sister got me this Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, and it’s sick. And then I’ve got this Stila one, which is even more precise. It’s called Microtip. I do it in one try every time. I have lashes on right now, but I like Benefit’s They’re Real mascara. It’s a great lengthener—not too chunky. When I am wearing lashes I always do individuals from Ardell. It’s not that hard—I prefer it, as opposed to putting on a ton of mascara. I have done eyelash extensions, and I liked them, but it’s tough to keep up. I have a great girl in LA who did extensions for my wedding. Her name is Flo, and her company’s called Flo Lashes. She’s truly incredible, and I don’t want anyone else going to her, so don’t go to her! No, I’m kidding, it’s fine. [Laughs]
An ideal evening for me is to go to a friend’s show—I love that I have so many musician friends in LA. In New York, I love Bowery Ballroom. I always try to make it to Gemma for dinner when I’m [in New York], but my favorite restaurant, without a doubt, is The Flower Shop. It’s has an old school bar vibe that’s really comfortable, and it’s owned by my friend, so every time I go there it’s like seeing family. You have to find ways to find community—movies in the park, going to music shows, whatever it is. I also love a house party. We have a really nice house for entertaining that's filled with all the animals everyone loves—three dogs, two cats, and a pot-bellied pig because I’m a rescuer. I’m pretty good at a cheese plate, if you don’t mind the absence of pork. I’m a martini girl—I love a gin martini, extra dirty, up. On normal nights, I’m a tea girl. I have a different tea for every time of day. A mint tea before bed is my deal. But after I’ve been out late, I will order a pizza and eat it in bed—and crash with my makeup on. I always fall asleep with my makeup on.”
—as told to ITG
Alyssa Miller photographed by Tom Newton in New York on September 11, 2018.