alice dellal is an unconventional beauty
Happy Birthday Alice Dellal, the unconventional beauty with a pierced nose and an undercut. As she turns 27 today, we fall down the rabbit hole with an old interview from The Best Of British Issue. We’ll get the Bacardi and you get the coke, and let’s...
Photography Nick Knight
In a galaxy far, far from the ones where mere mortals exist, a new hope has arrived. It is a period of change, where the every day humdrum of glossy haired clothes horses are eschewed for ones with personality and opinion. Striking from a North London base, Alice Dellal has spent the last two years triumphing a babe-lisicous victory over the bland and the beauteous. During her rise and rise, much attention has been given to her secret weapons - her undercut, her tattoos and her holey old fishnets.
"If someone told me to lose weight or change my hair, I'd have two words to tell them... FUCK OFF!"
A trinity of DIY style components that many attempts of forgery have been made. It is these things that give her the ultimate power of low maintenance and unrepeatable cool. Alice isn't an obvious model. She's not tall at all. She's like a miniature Amazonian, a tiny Rachel Hunter and if it were the 90s (her beloved decade of choice) she'd knock about town with Robert Downey Jr for sure. But she does have other assets; a hot bod, a wicked smile, a devil may care attitude and a fantastic, fashionable lineage.
She first came to attention, doing what most people her age (21) do best, gallivanting around town with her raggle-taggle posse of boys in bands and girls with chemical haircuts; kids that wear DM's not because they're cool but because they're handier when you're schlepping through mud at a Slovenian metal festival and a fat biker dude steps on your toes. Not that these kids are layabouts you realise, included in her gang are Caius Pawson, of Young Turks label fame, fellow model Laura Fraser and Louis Felber of the Erasherheads. Self-titled the D.C crew; her herd are all going places and go all places. Anyway, so the story goes that Alice and co were doing what they do and it came to the attention of the powers that be, that there was this totally hot chick and she needed to have her photo taken, a lot. Cut a long story short, she walked for Henry Holland's second catwalk show and Westwood last season, starred in the Agent Provocateur and Mango campaigns and now everyone knows who she is.
"I don't know why I like offensive stuff. I'm an angry teenager and I'm not even a teenager anymore!"
Nestling herself down onto a suitably large sofa, Alice is a picture of health. Her hair - the infamous lopsided undercut paired with bleached locks with roots so long it's 50/50 light and dark - is today scraped back into a top knot and her oversized checked shirt looks freshly laundered. "It's not," she assures me, "it pretty much walked here itself!" There is not the slightest trace of any ego, and although she is of West London big house territory, she is as far from being in anyway snobbish at all, offering her falafel and soup to me with tattooed hand. So Alice, how does it feel to see clones in the street, girls with undercuts and cut-offs, who two years ago would have trussed themselves up to the nines in Boho. "I don't really give a shit about people copying the undercut. I mean it's not my own, everyone's had an undercut in the past," she smiles in between mouthfuls. "But sometimes I see people and I think 'what the fuck's she doing?' You can tell people that shaved an undercut for the right reasons and opposed to getting an undercut because they see it in a magazine. I only have one by chance." Oh reaaaaaaaaaally? "I was 17, my sister was getting her hair cut at home and her mate, the hairdresser, had these clippers in his hand... it was love at first sight! My sister suggested shaving the side and I did. It was really small to start with and it's just gotten bigger and bigger. I'm sure that one day it will be half my head that's shaved. Although, I don't think I'd suit that!" I tell her that I imagine she'd suit anything and she's coy and shy and contrary. There is something confident about someone who consistently wears the same clothes - with Alice it's the ever present biker jacket, checked shirt, a vest or a T-shirt with a bit of a bra poking out, oversized vicious jewellery, cut offs and clumpy shoes; brothel creepers, white DM's and now some extra special clunkers from cyber punk shop New Rock. "Yeah, I'm really into them at the moment. They're fucking wrong but they do give me a bit of height. And they're heavy and offensive and no one likes them. But I love them." More cackling ensues. She's a one-woman witches coven.
"I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with fashion. My Mum was a model and is obsessed with clothes so I sort of grew up with sequins and feathers and all that shit. But I'd never ever put a sequinned top on if you paid me a million pounds. If I buy something or come across something I'll wear it till it rots. My white Doc Martens literally fall off my feet now. This shirt has been patched eight times. That's the beauty of it, I wake up in the morning and I know what I'm going to wear." So in a world where one's wardrobe is already decided in the morning, can a girl have favourites? "Totally. My favourite thing right now is my Dominic Jones ring. I haven't taken it off since I bought it last year." She shows me a heavy looking ring that looks like two bullets resting on her petite hand. It would definitely come in handy were she ever stuck in a ruck. "I don't know why I like offensive stuff. I'm an angry teenager and I'm not even a teenager anymore!"
"I'd never ever put a sequinned top on if you paid me a million pounds"
Let's talk about your tattoo's Alice, give us a guided tour. "Tattoos are an addiction. My latest one is scissors on the palm of my hand by Thomas Hooper! Was it sore? It was fucking painful. But I quite like the paaaaaaaain. I had it done at the tattoo convention and I had this guy sat next to me having his palm done too and we were looking at each other trying to be hard in front of an audience. My cousin did the shark on my palm, with a pen and a needle. Liam from Trencher did the skull and ribcage on my arm, I have asthma, so my lungs and my ribs are always on my mind. I have a scorpion on my ribcage, one on the inside of my bottom lip that says SCAR for Oscar. It's fucked, ironically, the guy had never done one there before so it smudged. This on the side of my hand says SDM87, for Sweet Dick Move 87, this one's Oliv, my middle name's Olivia and I did it myself. L for Laura (Fraser) on my middle finger. DC... we all know about that. It's a time and a place. All my tats are a time and a place. Sweet Dick Move was this summer and sweet dick move it was! I don't regret any of them at all, they all remind me of a moment in time. Laura was meant to get scissors on the palm of her hand too so we could be scissor sisters but they wouldn't let her as she didn't have any already. Everyone calls us lezzas 'cos we're fucking celibate. There's no love in my life, I'm still fucking a-sexual." It's hard to believe that there is no love for little leggy Alice, with her kitten green eyes. "I'm waiting for love at first sight. I'm so in love with everyone and no one. It's so sad, waking up to either Laura or a bed-full of sexless friends. We're all single and love each other... but I think we'll all end up shrivelled and alone, but together." There's no hint of sadness in this statement, just a bit of a chuckle. Maybe this is her top tip in having a good time, it seems like she's got the right attitude, "Yeah, life is great. Eat food, listen to music, have nice friends and do what you want and you'll live a great life."
So what about being a famous model, does it play a part in the bigger picture? The 'when I grow up' bit? "It's weird but it's nice. It's weird when people say 'oh, you're that model.' I don't think of myself as a model. Would you say I was? I enjoy it, a lot, I've met a lot of fucking wicked people doing it, but that's the glory of me being not just? a model-model. I get to work with people who appreciate me for my imperfections. If someone told me to lose weight or change my hair, I'd have two words to tell them... FUCK OFF!"
Text Hanna Hanra
Photography Nick Knight