Blush robe; FYI underwear; Giuseppe Zanotti shoes; Top Shop ring.
On the first episode of NY Ink Tim Hendricks noted that not many fashion models find themselves under the gun as often as Alysha Nett. Being cast as a model for a campaign is tough enough (Do you have the right body shape? Is your hair the right length?) but being able to make a living as a heavily tattooed model is even tougher—and Alysha is doing it. She’s not just another bony brunette or buxom blonde playing a breathing mannequin for a fashion company. When you hire Alysha, you get Alysha—high cheekbones, personality, and tattoos included.
“Most of the things I have tattooed on me are things that I think describe me as a person, like my half sleeve,” she says, referring to a tattoo on her right arm that includes a My Little Pony character, an old-fashioned stereo, and a flower. “It’s based around my childhood. I also tend to get tattooed during pivotal points in my life so they’re sort of like documentation of life moments.”
Some of her other tattoos are less symbolic, but they hold just as much sentimental value. And many of them—such as Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe on her foot, the elaborate piece on her lower stomach, and the picture frame on her back—leave the viewer with only a guess as to whether they belong to the “meaningful” or “decorative” category. “I love my back piece because it’s feminine and enhances the curves of my body,” she says. “It doesn’t mean anything, but it’s beautiful. As far as my personality goes, my [childhood] arm piece probably speaks the most to that: fun, silly, bright!”
On NY Ink she got a bare-limbed tree with leaves scattered at its roots on her thigh. Alysha explained that it symbolized her lack of home (she spends most of her time traveling). One day, when she finds a place to call her own, she says she’ll add a leaf to one of the branches.
To pay homage to her first home, where she got her first tattoo, she inked the state of Kansas on her left forearm. “I got my first tattoo when I was 17. I had been begging my dad to let me get one and one day he called me out of the blue while he himself was getting tattooed and said, ‘If you want one, get up here. It’s now or never.’” The result? Her high school nickname, “Lysha,” which has since been covered up on her lower back. Shortly after, at only 18, she moved out and began her modeling career.
Alysha now lives in Philadelphia and flaunts her ink for a variety of modeling gigs. But she doesn’t plan on stopping her travels with the States. As of this month, she’s extending her career to the United Kingdom. The Brits best take heed, though; like the fashion icons Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol, Alysha is an American original. —Cristina Guarino