“Oh my god. This has to be off the record, though.” Alyssa Smith leans in as I tap the red button and put my phone away, and then proceeds to enchant me with tales of her teenage exploits growing up in Newport, the small coastal town adjacent to Laguna Beach. For those of us who grew up far away from Southern California, the buttery, cinematic world of MTV’s (sorta)reality show Laguna Beach constituted a mental mood board for all of Orange County. Exceptionally attractive, sun-kissed high schoolers chatting and gossiping with the elongated vowels of a Southern California drawl helped define the idyllic region; and as I sit across from Smith, herself an OC native, swimsuit model, and the marketing arm of Lezard Swim, I can’thelp but notice that she certainly looks the part.
Perched on a lux leather couch anchoring the Mack Sennett Studios lounge area, Smith is golden haired, witty, and magnetic: an evolved version of the California trope that defined the region almost a decade ago. As she recounts the story of how she met Leah Shlaer—the company’s swimwear designer and Smith’s duly fair-haired counterpart—both women become visibly coy, their manners suffused with mutual admiration. This is to be expected. After all, their partnership is new-ish, having begun just a few years back when Smith modeled for Shlaer’s former eponymous line. Alyssa describes Leah as having designed the most beautiful suits she’d ever worn, and Leah explains how Alyssa, with years of modeling experience under her belt, just “got it.” After months of reciprocal social media affirmation, the two women eventually reconnected IRL and decided to join forces.
The name Lezard (French for “lizard”) is inspired by a fictional woman, one who slides effortlessly in and out of various settings while always maintaining a strong identity. A “Lezard girl” is socially dexterous and captivatin —spirited, with classic sartorial sensibilities. She’s athletic and curious, authentic and funny. In short, she isa chic, cool, well traveled woman. The brand personifies its imaginary muse by infusing notions of whimsy and wanderlust into its classically flattering silhouettes.