It says a lot when someone whose entire career revolves around dressing people up, strips down. Ali Levine did just that when she appeared with her husband on Bravo’s hit series Stripped. She took it off. Everything. Ali gave it all up to get back to basics. To unplug and remind herself what’s most important.
Levine came out of her experience on Stripped stronger, more motivated and well, pregnant. She’s still doing what she does best, but for all the right reasons. She is using her skills to empower women. To give them the confidence to go out in the world and be themselves. Ali has the world at her finger tips and she is taking full advantage.
Where are you from?
Ali: I am originally from New York. I moved to LA eight years ago.
What brought you to Los Angeles?
Ali: I was working in costume in New York and I wanted to do more styling, red carpet, everyday trending.
Ali: Yes, I am. [chuckles] Almost at the home stretch. Eight and a half months. I’m having a little girl. I expect her to be a little fashionista through and through.
Will she be your first?
Ali: She is our first.
Have you had any wild cravings?
Ali: I’ve had many wild, fun cravings. I’ve craved tacos, chocolate, weird candies like Swedish fish and things like that. Things you get at a gas station. I’ve also been craving a lot of pizza. Last night, pizza was my jam.
Is she already equipped with a full closet?
Ali: Yes. She is definitely equipped with a full closet. Her closet is already exploding with clothes. I actually need to go get more baby hangers today. Her drawers are stuffed with fabulous outfits and accessories.
How did you get into fashion and styling?
Ali: I got into fashion and styling through my grandmother. When I was like three years old, I would follow her around. I loved what she was wearing. I always tried on her heels, put on her pearls and jewels. She always taught me to be myself and not be afraid. I would create my own outfits even at age three. I really attribute my fashion sense and everything to her.
What is a popular fashion trend now that you wish would go away?
Ali: I would say neon has been hanging on for too long. They keep recreating it in now in prints, instead of it just being a soft color you wear. I think neon is for that one bold moment, but it shouldn’t be in everyday wardrobe. [chuckles]
What do you appreciate about past fashion trends?
Ali: I just love that vintage and retro pieces have more real detail. Not like these faux buttons that you’re seeing on these shirts and skirts. Real embroidery. Just everything more handmade and couture. I love that vibe. There’s so many designers now and I appreciate that, but at the same time things tend to get cheapened.
Who are your inspirations in the fashion world?
Ali: I have many inspirations. My favorite designers will always be Coco Chanel, Oscar de la Renta. I love Diane Von Furstenberg. I’ve met her personally. I just think she’s amazing. She created this fabulous wrap dress that now everyone is trying to emulate. I also love Jimmy Choo.
Who would you love to style?
Ali: I’d love to style someone like Zendaya. She’s never afraid to go outside the box and push the envelope. Whenever I style, I like to take my clients outside of their comfort zone.
What would you say is the best part of your job?
Ali: The best part of my job is seeing how passionate and excited someone gets about their outfit. Especially when they’ve maybe fought me on it and said, “I couldn’t pull that off. I couldn’t do it.” I always say confidence is your best accessory. I love to see that come through with my clients.
Do you have an Ali Levine rule of thumb?
Ali: Yes. I always say, “When in doubt, always put a pop of color.” It doesn’t have to be crazy, just something to throw in. If you’re wearing a simple little black dress, you can throw a nice pink lip just to give yourself that extra little detail. I like dialing things up. I never want things to be basic.
Do you have a large wardrobe?
Ali: Yes. I have a very large wardrobe. When I went through a Stripped on Bravo, they made me get rid of a lot of it, so it’s not as big as it used to be. I’m starting to add back on. I definitely have too many clothes, shoes and accessories. I can’t help it because everything inspires me. I love to dress myself. Especially now being so pregnant, I’ve been having fun learning how dress the bump in a really fun manner.
Can you tell us about your experience on Stripped with Bravo?
Ali: I was asked to be on Stripped, this series created to show America how hooked we are on our stuff and how we’re controlled by technology and social media. They asked myself and my husband to do this project with them. They took away everything from our home for 21 days. It felt like we moved, except they moved everything for us. We were stripped and left with nothing. When I say nothing, I mean butt ass naked.
The first day you’re just left with nothing but your thoughts. They give you these gross food rations. Thank God I don’t have to eat them now because I couldn’t even stomach them pregnant. They give you food rations, water, toilet paper and that’s about it. You’re supposed to be thankful for those things. Then, every day, you get one item back. It’s really about what you pick and why.
For me, day one, I got a dress because I couldn’t handle being naked and exposed. My husband just rocked it out. Justin was like, “Nope. Not going to do it. I’m going to stay naked. We need to get off the floor and stop sleeping on our hardwood floor. I’m going to get us the couch, which was to be honest, quite genius because we were able to use the pillow cases for towels. We were able to use it in multiple ways. It’s very interesting when you go through something like that, how it changes your mindset and makes you really think like, “Wow. What really is important?”
I think that as hard as it was to go through Stripped, I felt very empowered and I learned a lot about myself. Sometimes, I do hide behind my stuff or I don’t disconnect the way I should. I think a lot of people are very guilty of that. They’re just attached to their phones or social media and they don’t realize it.
Since going through Stripped, I got pregnant. [chuckles] I think I got very in tuned with my husband and what we maybe we’re missing. Also, just reconnecting with my friends and family, realizing that I can take a break. I don’t have to be 24/7 work, work, work. This will help me with becoming a mom.
Do you think that that time spent on the show with all of those technologies being absent, do you find now that you’ve been able to maintain that ability to disconnect when necessary?
Ali: I’m still working on it but I think I definitely have gotten better. I can go home and leave my phone upstairs to charge without freaking out and wondering if there are a hundred messages that need to be answered. Before Stripped, if I didn’t answer someone within 30 seconds, I would be anxious and feel my friends may think I was dead. They’re like, “Oh my God. She’s not answering me.” Now, I’ve trained myself and others around me that if I don’t answer right away, it doesn’t mean something’s wrong, it just means I’m busy or I’m doing other things.
Do you think this is an experience that everyone should participate in at some point?
Ali: It’s actually funny that you’ve asked that. I said to my husband the other day, I was like, “I really think everyone in America should be stripped.” Not to sound rude, but I feel like we’re in a very interesting time right now where there’s a lot of empowerment but still a lot of negativity. It’s very half and half. I feel like if you go through something like that, it really brings you back to the basics. It forces you to ask questions like, what is important? What are my core values? If I didn’t have any of this stuff, where does life leave me?
It really makes you think and second guess what you’ve been doing. I really truly realized that I wasn’t spending enough time in my marriage. I was spending all my time at work. I wasn’t focused on some of our future goals which was eventually to have a family.
Is it fair to say that your pregnancy is related to your experience on Stripped.
Ali: Yes. It’s definitely fair to say. [laughs]
What are your goals for the future?
Ali: I’m starting to really train a lot of my assistants that work with me to be stylists. They can go out in the world and do the jobs that I’ve been doing for years so I’m not having to run around as much. I’m still involved in overseeing, but I’m not in the everyday consistent grind, because of course, I have to pay attention to my daughter. She’s going to become my new baby. My fashion and my styling were my baby for almost 10 years, now my daughter is going to take that spot.
I’m trying to learn how to transition myself. I recently launched my jewelry line with Sterling Forever called Hearts on Fire. That was actually inspired by my daughter. I felt like when everything happened, it was just kind of setting my heart on fire. I’m very excited for the collection. Everyone seems to love it. I would love to have a clothing and shoe line one day, maybe even a baby line at some point. I expect her to be my best accessory.
Where can we get your products?
Ali: You can find my jewelry at sterlingforever.com/heartsonfire or if you just search Hearts on Fire by Ali Levine, you’ll find it.
If you were able to give your daughter a piece of advice, what would it be?
Ali: I’m very excited about getting to have her in this time because of the female empowerment movement going on. I think it’s a really cool time to be born into. My advice would be to just be you and inspire yourself. Always remember there’s only one you. You may look at someone and go,”She’s pretty” or, “Wow, she has that.” At the end of the day, you’re you and you have your own makeup, you’re unique and you’re beautiful for your own reasons. I think especially girls, when they’re young can get catty and they snap and you get down on yourself when you get insecure. I know high school was really hard for me. I think that what I learned as I got older was, that doesn’t matter. That’s a small part of your life. Stick to your core values, what makes you you and what inspires you. That’s something I really hope she learns how to do.
Is there anything else that you’d like to goOnRCRD?
Ali: In reference to Stripped with Bravo. I got a lot of positive and negative feedback from people reaching out to me just saying like, “Why couldn’t you handle being without your glam?” Because they take your makeup, your hairspray, your everything. I think I would say it wasn’t that I couldn’t handle it. It was just something that I’m always used to. As a woman, I take pride in looking beautiful and being put together.
My grandmother and my mother always have taught me “You always have your face on”. When you go out in the world, even just a little bit of rouge or lip gloss, you always have something. I felt like people got really upset that I broke down at the red carpet event when I had no makeup on and my hair wasn’t done. It wasn’t about the fact that I had to be “Hollywood”. That’s just how I’ve always been. I’ve always been someone to love glam and makeup. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Follow Ali Levine @alilevinedesign
Check out Hearts on Fire