FIRST DIMERS: Alyssa Vingan
Interview by Brynn Wallner, photos by Cobey Arner
Alyssa Vingan is the editor-in-chief of NYLON Magazine, and because she’s so down to earth, you may find it hard to believe that she’s built a career of over 10 years in the fashion industry. Not that fashion is uptight (*coughs*), but Alyssa’s style is so deviant from the click-clack-catty stereotype of “fashion people”... I mean, who else do you know that will tweet about Bella Hadid’s iconic looks one minute (“Damn, Bella!”) and her divorce the next? She’s joked to me that she’s become an unofficial spokesperson for young women going through divorce; and she’s been bravely, humorously candid about her post-separation process. Obviously, her relationship status doesn’t define her, but in a world where people are so concerned about projecting an image of perfection, Alyssa is a breath of fresh air. So when she announced to me that she’d be purchasing a “divorce watch”, I was dying to interview her. She’s a fellow East Village queen and we met in Tompkins Square Park to talk all things relationships, it-girls, and what it’s like to swap your diamond rings for a Panthère.
BRYNN WALLNER: First, tell me about the watch.
ALYSSA VINGAN: So, I think I should start off by saying that you and I first started talking about watches after I got separated because I wanted to buy myself a “divorce watch.” You know, you’re married for years and you’re wearing diamond rings on your left hand – and after I stopped doing that, I was like what else could take the place of this fancy jewelry that I could wear even with a casual outfit? And because I’d be wearing a watch on my left wrist, I thought it would be the perfect switch.
BW: Have you worn watches before?
AV: I’ve always had kind of a hard time wearing a watch because my wrists are so small. Like many other women who grew up in the Tumblr era, I was very enamored with Mary-Kate and Ashley wearing their big men’s vintage Rolexes. But anytime I would try on a big watch, I thought it looked so goofy on me.
BW: I feel the same way.
AV: When you started talking about the Panthère, I was like this might be the one. Capital T, capital O, the one.
BW: It was love.
AV: I did a little bit of research, and the more I looked at it, the more I felt like it was very me vibes.
BW: How’d you get it?
AV: In the spring, my parents came to visit, and we wanted to pull the bandaid off the last divorce errand, which was selling my diamonds. We had to kind of psych ourselves up because we knew it would be a real pain in the ass. So we went to the Diamond District…
BW: So Uncut Gems of you.
AV: Yes, and much like in Uncut Gems, the vibes felt very sinister. They are not fucking around – they’ll just look at you in the eyes and tell you that what you have is worth nothing.
BW: Ugh, sounds traumatic.
AV: It was a little traumatic! And also, getting rid of the rings was the end, you know? They didn’t make it easy. I had to fight tooth and nail to get what I thought I “deserved” or what the value of them was. It took a lot of self control not to lose composure when they were bargaining with me. But finally – the third place we went into – they settled with us on a fair price, and after that I immediately started to break down… just because the whole situation was so frustrating, but also cathartic. I was just really happy that it was all over.
BW: I can only imagine.
AV: Yes. But it brought back bad memories, of which I won’t get into… my parents were staring at me crying on whatever street this was uptown and were like we’re not gonna let this day go to waste. My dad and mom remembered that I was talking about Cartier, and they were like, get your phone, Google Cartier, find the nearest store, let’s go right now. And, you know, I had several racks in my pocket for the first time ever.
BW: Did you go to the mansion?
AV: Yeah, we walked a few blocks to the Cartier store on 57th. Shopping was by appointment only, which we didn’t have, but the very lovely people at Cartier let us come in anyway because my dad looked at them very sternly and was like, we’re going to make a purchase. Let us in. [laughs]
BW: Oh, they knew what was going down.
AV: They took us upstairs, and they got us water. I knew the Panthère was the one I wanted to try, but they pulled out the Tank and a couple other ones. The steel, the mixed metals… so I had a nice little try-on moment in the room with our shopper, and when they put this one on me, we were like this is the one. It’s the one! It just looks so great.
BW: Do you love the two-tone?
AV: I do. I wear a lot of – I mean, I have a dozen holes in my ear. White gold, yellow gold, rose gold. I do like mixing metals, so I feel like it goes with everything I have.
BW: And you got that red box…
AV: Yes, love the red box. We put the money down – and I will say this on record that the money I got from the ring was not enough to cover the watch. It made a dent, but just putting that out there…
BW: The watches are not cheap.
AV: Yeah, but, you know, they let you toast the champagne and… it went from a really horrible day to a really special day with my family. I will always look fondly on that. And I remember we took the subway back and there was an ad from a divorce lawyer that said “When diamonds aren’t forever…” I texted you like, if this is not a sign that I did the right thing, I don’t know what is. My parents and I lost it laughing because it was so hilarious.
BW: What a cherry on top. It’s like that moment was written for you. Fiction. Do you wear it every day?
AV: I do! I feel like I’m still in the phase where I don’t want to take it off. I wear it to pilates and spin class – not to be a diva, but just because I don’t want to part with it.
BW: Do you shower in it?
AV: I don’t shower with it, and I don’t take it in the water.
BW: Sleep in it?
AV: Sometimes, but not on purpose. I’ll have a long day where I just doze off… like, I can’t be bothered to take this off right now.
BW: How did your friends react when they first saw you wearing it?
AV: I would say everyone was really happy for me. I never had a watch before… although I’ve been working in fashion for so long, I feel like I’ve never been one to wear an “it item” or a flashy thing. But, you know, this is the it-girl watch! It’s my first real “flex on em” piece.
BW: Damn, Bella!
AV: Yeah… Bella and I have the same watch [laughs]. One of the first nights having it, I met my friends for drinks at an outdoor bar. It was golden hour and I walked up in my jeans and tshirt, but I had this on, and it was sparkling in the sunset, and my friend goes, that watch has big dick energy. I was like, that’s what I like to hear!
BW: Hell yeah.
AV: I’m back in the game now, and every date I’ve gone on men have noticed. We love to see it.
BW: I mean, it’s such a sexy watch. Do you notice watches on other people too, now that you have one?
AV: I do and, like I said, I’ve always admired fashionable women coming up in the industry who’d incorporate watches into their signature style. I appreciate when it isn’t a trend piece, too. There are a lot of watches that feel like a flash in the pan. I like when something is timeless, and I feel like my watch is one of those things!
BW: Yours will transcend any trend, and it goes with everything! Even your pilates outfit.
AV: I think I need to start being a little more careful. I know the watch is protected by warranty, but I’m a little clumsy… I don’t want to accidentally hit it with a barbell at SoulCycle [laughs].
BW: Yes, but you’re allowed to live in it! Do you feel a lil extra pep in your step when you wear the watch?
AV: I do. I really feel like this is just a special thing that I’ll have forever and that it marks a big transition in my life. Not to sound totally corny, but it’s the closure of one chapter and the start of another. Now, I feel the best and happiest I’ve ever been, and this is a part of that for me.
BW: That makes me so happy to hear.
AV: And you know, when I’m old and look at this watch, I’ll always remember when I was 34 and where I was at this point in my life. I know a lot of people going through a divorce – and I felt this way too – you feel very lost and beaten down, and you don’t… it’s just a very confusing time, starting your life all over again. So I’m very proud that I was able to get this.
BW: It will always be more than just a flex.
AV: Oh, exactly. And hopefully it’ll be in my family to keep and pass down… forever.