Alessander Lee was born and raised in Ponce, Puerto Rico. After graduating from high school, he began to study fashion design with renown Puerto Rican designer Rene Cruz. Lee created his first clothing collection called Nova for the South Fashion Week, a prestigious fashion event in the southern area of Puerto Rico. Following the success of his collection, he began designing for proms, weddings, special events and beauty pageants such as Miss Puerto Rico Teen Girl (2017) and Miss Universe Puerto Rico (2016). He is currently a professional dancer, a soloist with Kentucky Ballet Theatre. Lee has designed and created costumes for Kentucky Ballet Theatre’s productions of The Nutcracker, The Wizard of Oz, Carmen, Dracula and dance repertory productions. Internationally, Lee created more than 15 costume designs for The Nutcracker in the production of Ballet de Camaguey in Camaguey, Cuba. Currently he designs exclusive fashion and costumes for a wide range of events, ballet productions and managing his new clothing line called art•ive•ism, which includes specialty hand painting techniques and commercial apparels.
Alessander Lee’s work as a fashion and costume designer are characterized by pieces specifically made to the taste and measurements of his clients. Lee's source of inspiration comes from the arts, especially ballet, which is a classic style of dancing. His other sources of inspiration for design come from architecture with modern and contemporary elements, geometry, and patterns found in nature. He loves being challenged with new ideas, especially with construction styles and techniques for his designs and development of costumes and garments. Lee’s greatest asset is designing and creating clothing garments that are characterized by elegance and clean-clear lines. Each of his designs is created with passion, research and clear artistic vision. Alessander Lee's background as a classically trained professional dancer, has deepened his principles of form and function into fashion and costume designs. He understands that his designs must tell a story, yet be functional, practical and durable.
October 12, 2020
We had the good fortune of connecting with Alessander lee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alessander, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I am a professional ballet dancer and a fashion/costume designer. I have designed fashion and created costumes for the runway and the performance stage, but never had experimented with hand painting clothing items. The process behind the creation of my business was quite interesting because it was through doing something out of my comfort zone, hand painting shirts. I have always enjoyed painting as a hobby, but never thought they were good enough to sell or display. It wasn’t until some friends began praising my sketches for my fashion and costume designs. Also, to stay busy during the pandemic I painted shirts for myself. When I’d be at the grocery store or walking at the park strangers would compliment my shirts. This gave me an idea to take a chance on trying something new and out of my comfort zone; to create a new line of hand painted shirts. I started looking for information that will help me create my brand. I wanted to create a product with a self-descriptive name, that was relatable and accessible to a broader audience. I wanted to create a product that was original and each garment a unique work of art. Then, started was brainstorming and planning about how to develop a budget, how to promote the product, how to set myself apart from similar businesses and researching people’s interest and tastes for designs on a shirt.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
One of the things that sets me apart from other fashion and costume designers is that I bring into my work the knowledge and sensibilities I have gained as a professional dancer. I am very passionate about the work I do, whereas it’s as designer, choreographer, teacher or dancer. I have always loved original things, so when thinking of developing a new product, I wanted each shirt I painted to be custom made and unique.
What you are most proud and excited about?
I am completely proud of the person I am today, and how I have evolved as both a person and artist. Being involved in the arts has been one of the most wonderful things that has happened to me. Through my work as a designer and performer, I want to inspire and educate people. My new line of painted shirts is called ART-IVE-ISM; art that is active, art with activism. The designs for this product bring awareness to the wellbeing of our planet. Each ART-IVE-ISM t-shirt has been carefully hand painted with ARTEZA, certified non-toxic. I wanted to use this brand of paint because of the company’s commitment to planting more than 10,000 trees around the United States in partnership with One Tree Planted, a non-profit organization focused on global reforestation.
How did you get to where you are today professionally? Many people helped me on this path of dance and fashion. I had a Cuban teacher who always went to Puerto Rico to teach and one day I told him that I wanted to leave Puerto Rico and if he knew of a ballet company in the USA. and he contacted me with the director of Kentucky ballet theater that today I am part of. In fashion, I studied with a renowned designer in Puerto Rico, Rene Cruz. He was my mentor and my inspiration, he inspired me to follow my passion in design.
Was it easy? if not, how did you overcome he challenge?
It hasn’t been easy; I have always been committed to overcoming challenges with determination and love. As humans we are constantly changing and evolving, we will always face challenges. But what matters is that we believe in our dreams and work hard to achieve them, we mustn’t give up.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I have learned not to devalue my work, to always share my gifts with others, and that I must always remain humble and work hard to find success in this business.
What do you want the world to know about your brand and story?
My work as a fashion and costume designer are characterized by pieces that are specifically made to the taste and measurements of my clients. My sources of inspiration come from the arts, especially ballet. I also draw inspiration from architecture with modern and contemporary elements, and patterns found in nature. I love being challenged with new ideas, especially with construction styles and techniques for my designs. My designs are created with passion, research and a clear artistic vision. As I mentioned earlier, my background as a classically trained professional dancer, has deepened my principles of form and function into fashion and costume design. I understand that my designs must tell a story, yet be functional, practical and durable. I know I have so much more to grow and learn, which is why I remain focused and open to exploring new ideas.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I like to take people on hikes because I find it so significant to connect with nature, plus it is pleasurable and relaxing. I would take them to eat at vegan or vegetarian restaurants since these are my favorites types of foods. It’s always fun introducing my friends to plant-based dishes. Then, the beach would be on the list of places to visit next. I grew up in Puerto Rico, where I literally was able to see the Caribbean Sea every day, therefore being on the sand and breathing the fresh air on the coast is relaxing and at the same time energizing. Lastly, I would take them to explore different types of museums; I think it’s enjoyable and vital to learn about art, history and culture.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shout out to all those people who continue to persevere and put passion and love into everything they do. They inspire me to work hard and to give my best always. Also, I want to acknowledge the artistic community across this country because they work hard every day to fill our lives with hope, imagination, wonder, entertainment and new ways to view our world. Last, but not least, I want to give a shout out to my family for their continued love and unconditional support.