Alyssa Riley has been modeling since she was 14, when she landed her first-ever job for Kohls. In the decade since, she’s modeled for Covergirl, Guess, Saks Fifth Avenue, Crest toothpaste…the list goes on. “Chicago was the closest city with the most opportunity, so I graduated from high school at 17 and signed with Ford Models so I could fully devote myself. It’s been an interesting world to grow up in,” says Alyssa, “but my family keep me grounded—my parents are my biggest fans. I’m thankful to them for trusting me at a young age and for being there when I needed them.”
A Capricorn whose nicknames include Lys, Toad or Jubilee (“long story”), Alyssa aptly fits the model profile: outgoing, ambitious, confident and street-smart, though “I’ve been known to walk on set wearing something backwards every once in awhile,” she admits.
Growing up in Ohio, Alyssa was an athlete—she played volleyball and was trained in classical ballet—and a “pro babysitter: I love kids and taking care of people.” After bouncing from city to city for work, her life is more settled now. She lives in New York City and spends a lot of time in New Jersey, where her boyfriend lives. “I’m obsessed with cooking and being outdoors—my happy place is Montana—so it’s nice to have an escape from the city. I love weekends spent relaxing at the house, having amazing wine and cooking dinner for friends,” says Alyssa, who credits her great-grandmother for teaching her to cook and bake.
In her downtime, Alyssa is likely reading a good book (currently The Hôtel on Place Vendôme: Life, Death and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris) or having a Sunday Netflix marathon in her favorite Calvin Klein boy shorts and sports bras (“I wear them as pajamas”). Says Alyssa, “My favorite campaigns to shoot are swim and lingerie. I absolutely love the beach and working outside; I feel my most beautiful when I’m on the beach in my bikini. And I always feel sexy and confident shooting lingerie, especially anything from For Love & Lemons. They make such beautiful detailed pieces. To me the contemporary department is the most fashion-forward, cool and appealing.”
Our 23-year-old model Hunter McGrady, a.k.a. Peanut (“My dad has called me that forever”), lights up the studio like no flashbulb could whenever she comes by Bare Necessities. Hunter moved solo to New York from nearby Malibu, California, where she learned to love surfing and “never lived a conventional life: I grew up on a mountain with no neighbors for miles. My dad is an actor and my mom was a model. I’ve always been around this business.”
In fact, Hunter started modeling to be like her mom: “I absolutely idolized her—still do. Whenever someone had a camera out, even if I didn’t know them, I would try to get in the shot!” Now, Hunter’s mother is her biggest fan. “She keeps tabs on all my work. She’ll send me things I didn’t even know came out yet,” says Hunter who, as a size 14, has modeled for Lane Bryant, Forever 21, Torrid, Nordstrom and all of Melissa McCarthy’s campaigns in addition to Bare Necessities. “I was so excited to start working for BN eight months ago, as I’ve loved the site for so long,” says Hunter. She now swears by the Wacoal Red Carpet strapless bra and Natori Plunge bras in a 38DD.
We chatted with Hunter about what she values most and what makes her who she is today.
Many a lingerie model comes through our front door and heads into the photo studio at Bare Necessities—simply another day at the office for Ashley Graham, Kate Upton, Ebonee Davis, Candice Swanepoel, Nina Agdal and more who got their start here over the years.
This is Model Confessions, our new series about what it’s really like to be a lingerie model, from the full-on fabulous to the decidedly less so. Because one way of empowering women is by ensuring they’re seen and heard.
Meet Alexandria Hanson. She’s originally from the small town of Stillwater, Minnesota, “where there was nothing going on for me. I knew there was more to learn out there, but I’m not one to be told what to do while sitting at a desk.” From the hair and makeup chair at her latest shoot (full-bust bras, for the record), Alex got candid with us: “My childhood was a lot of ups and downs. I grew up fast, I fought with my mother and refused to listen to reason. My teenage years were full of puppy love, pointless drama and attitude. I was always sneaking out of the house. Looking back, I’m surprised with what my parents put up with. I had to strike out on my own to heal those relationships. Now, my mom is my best friend.”
Whip-smart and sweet, cool, calm and collected at only 23, Alex has also modeled for Kohls and appeared in a Colgate commercial. A career highlight: her Sports Illustrated ad for Dodge Ram trucks. Her secret talent is painting, she played some serious soccer in high school, her pet peeve is people showing up late and she’s learned a whole lot about life through her adventures in modeling…