Alice Marie-Thérèse Hamm had unusually ambitious dreams for a young girl during wartime 1940s in a petite farming village in eastern France. She harnessed her entrepreneurial instinct by tailoring shirts for the town’s farmers, and handmade elegant dresses for the local ladies out of her mother’s draperies (much to maman's dismay).
She soon grew restless and moved her talents to a local design school before deciding that where she really needed to be was Paris in the early 50s. After graduating the Paris École de Coupe in 1952, Alice was ready to take on the world: she abruptly switched continents, and moved to Chicago in 1953 to design for a bridal and specialty dress manufacturer. When Alice became a U.S. citizen, she soon changed the spelling of her name from Alice to Alyce (pronounced AH-lease) hoping that people wouldn't mispronounce her name. Alyce became increasingly insatiable by working for other people, and thus founded her own company in 1967 after she bought out the owners, loftily telling them “you don’t need this company anymore—you have another one, plus your son doesn’t want it, anyway.”