Wild Ones: Kyle DeFord & Alan
The star of HBO’s Stylish and Jenna Lyons’ right-hand man talks LoveSeen and Labradoodles.
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I can’t decide whose sun-kissed curls are more covetable: Kyle DeFord’s or his Labradoodle Alan’s. The pair cut a chic figure in Soho, where DeFord works as Jenna Lyons’ chief of staff, starring in their HBO show Stylish and overseeing beauty brand LoveSeen. We caught up with him to find out how he trained Alan to be the goodest boy.
They say people resemble their pets. Besides being blondes, what other traits would you say you share with Alan?
Ha! We’re the same in so many ways. Things he’s anxious about, I’m anxious about. When we’re in the mood to be social, we’re super social. We make friends easily, especially with strangers, and love hanging with our close pals. When it’s time to be alone, though, you can find us both lying on the floor under the bed.
Labradoodles seem pretty perfect. Was Alan a breeze to train?
I agree – Alan is pretty perfect to me. He’s hypoallergenic, doesn’t shed, is the perfect size for a New York City apartment…and is impossibly cute. I grew up with dogs and am a big believer in Dr. Ian Dunbar’s training methods, so we were super diligent about putting in the work when Alan was a puppy. He loves to make people happy so he was kind of a breeze to train. The one tough thing about him is he’s not really food motivated. I didn’t want to over train Alan because I wanted his personality to come out, you know?
Dr. Dunbar is all about positive reinforcement, crate training, and exposure therapy — preventing him from falling into any bad habits. It’s hard work for the first year but then you have a good dog for the rest of your life. Alan had to be held by 50 different people within the first 30 days of bringing him home. So any human being who would show interest in him on the street, I’d be like, “Here you go!” and thrust Alan into the arms of a stranger. Of course they’d always oblige.
No wonder he’s a social butterfly.
Alan loves people. Whenever we go to the local dog park, he takes his time trotting around the perimeter, stopping to say hello to fellow dog owners. But dog parks are stressful — the wind blows around the gravel so there’s this dust cloud, and Tompkins Square Park has a drum circle, so it always feels very Jumanji. I’m lucky to have a place upstate with 100 acres that he frolics around on the weekends.
Does he know any tricks?
We spent a long time training Alan as a puppy so he has the basics mastered, but outside of that his only trick is melting your heart with a soulful gaze.
How does Alan like going to work with you? Does he get along with Jenna’s dog?
Alan is comfortable in all environments, especially where there are other people. He’s a total social butterfly. Popeye and Alan get along great — they took some time to get to know each other but are now old friends.
Does Alan help you maintain a work/life balance?
Yes! Having to take regular breaks for walks and belly rubs helps me make time for myself too. Alan loves to go on walks so I get pleasure from taking him for a walk, and at the same time I get to take a break, stretch my legs, and walk in the sun. Even refreshing his water bowl, you know — carving out time in your day to devote to this creature you love reminds you that work is not the most important thing in the world.
Was being on TV part of your career plan?
No! I had been at J.Crew for a decade when Jenna reached out and asked, “Do you want to do this crazy project with me? I’m developing a beauty company, I’m the creative director for a hotel in the Bahamas, oh, and by the way, we’re going to film a TV show — I need someone to wrangle my life.” I said, “Yeah, totally!”
When I joined Jenna, I was tasked with developing the concept behind Stylish. As part of the process, I was asked to do a screen test. Fast-forward to when we started filming — I was asked to participate in the show in a more meaningful way. I thought, well, this is gonna be weird. Of course, I had a billion reasons why I didn’t want to do it — the horror story of looking terrible on TV, the fact that you’re gonna be on a streaming network for the rest of your life, that they could produce you into a monster or villain… But that wasn’t the intention of the show at all — it was meant to be a fun show about people’s skills and not about interpersonal drama. So I was like, YOLO, and it was super fun and I’m proud of it.
Has Alan ever guest starred?
He makes a tiny cameo in one episode and you can hear him bark in another. We learned that it’s tricky to film with a dog around so we decided that it was going to be a one-dog show — and that’s Popeye. Sometimes he’d bark and we’d have to cut to give him a treat, but he was a delight on the show.
What summer plans do you and Alan have?
I’ve had a busy year launching and managing LoveSeen. We have a lot of fun partnerships coming up that we’re super excited about. As for Alan, he’ll be receiving cuddles, running around, and chasing animals in the wrong direction because he’s a little clueless. We’re taking it pretty easy this summer. 2022’s gonna be great.
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Samantha Gurrie is The Wildest’s editorial director. She was previously the senior editor at NYLON magazine, co-publisher of Four&Sons, and director at The Sato Project dog rescue. She lives in L.A. with her husband and rescue Pit Bull mix Midnight.