Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

Monthly Archives: July 2016

  • Making Magic

    Ever since my daughter was a little girl, she has had a very specific point of view of what she wanted to wear, including her love of overalls.


    A couple decades later and Lily has her own clothing line, Lily Ashwell,  it’s been quite the journey, as any company is, especially when run by a creative mind.


    "I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world" - Thomas A. Edison


    I know, only too well, that it is a challenge to keep the balance of creativity with a responsibility to a healthy business, while keeping values and the mission of a brand.  For Lily, that is to design a collection of modern, wearable staples, inspired by delicate vintage pieces, and always made in the USA.

    #2 shoot board

    A few weeks ago, Lily had a photo shoot for her Spring/Summer 2016 Collection and the launch of her Bridal/Custom Collection.  She had a lot to shoot in a small amount of time, so creating a timeline of shooting was step number one.

    #3 loft & props

    She found a location to shoot - Industrial, clean with magical light.  From time to time I mentor her behind the scenes, where I am able.  Although I don't have all the answers, I am able to share the ups and downs of my Shabby Chic journey.  Some of which applies to her and today’s world, and some, not so much.

    #4A truck

    In this instance, I helped with some logistics (packing her truck) and some styling.  At 6am, her U-Haul rolled into my driveway and we loaded her collection, along with some props and flowers.  My years of flea market loading and packing trucks came in handy here… I can be quite nifty with the bungee cords.


    I have used my vintage floral hats a million times over in my world of styling and even though her vibe is more modern and edgy than mine, her Bridal/Custom Collection is simple and beautiful and for some shots Lily thought it would be fun to use a couple of hats to add some whimsy.  I have so enjoyed watching Lily evolve and perfect her craft as a designer and business owner. She has her own beautiful sense of style, and while influenced by growing up in the world of Shabby Chic, she has a very specific vision of which now inspires me.  For this shoot, she asked me to make some floral bouquets.  I knew she wouldn't want anything formal, so I gathered my ribbons and went to the flower market where I decided upon mainly, baby's breath, yellow roses, and dahlias.

    It was a truly magical day for me, watching Lily and her little team focused, executing her story and respecting the budget of time she had set for herself, without compromising her vision…

    #11.lily store

    Her collection can be found in her little store in Venice or at lilyashwell.com

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  • Palette For The Soul

    I have to be careful to keep my mind focused, as it relates to things like eating the right foods (those sugars creep in), working out (a day, or two, or three goes by), avoiding idle information for my brain (unconsciously picking up those gossip magazines at the airport) and its so easy for bad habits to take hold.  But, no matter what is going on in the world, in my sleep, in my work, in my home, my color palette finds me, focused and consistent. My palette habit, is a healthy habit.


    The aesthetic of my palette has always been soft, pinks, greens, blues and earth tones.


    Over the years, while staying true to my palette, I have evolved to being attracted to the moodier spectrum of color, along with pale green has now come teal, along with pale pink has now come raspberry, and along with ivory has now come taupe and bleached raw woods.

    9. copy

    I have captured this palette in a chalk & clay paint line, of 10 perfect paints.


    For me, these colors come to me consistently and easily without effort into my world and I never stray.  I think it’s that they are soft and soothing, and the attraction is authentic to me and what I like to surround myself with.


    When I shop the flea markets, that’s the only palette my eye edits. In my home, whether in my workout space in my barn or a walk-by nook, whether in the world of Simply Shabby Chic at Target or in my couture stores, these colors always find their place, and they just work, aesthetically and soulfully.

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  • The Different Faces Of Shabby

    Shabby Chic was first born way back in 1989 with a store in Santa Monica, CA.  I actually consider myself more of a storyteller and stylist than I do a designer of product.

    1.first store (1)

    But with two small kids and years of sticky fingers ahead of me, the story I wanted to tell was one of beauty, comfort and function. Where sticky fingers could live amongst other imperfectly beautiful things, and I needed a product to tell my story of Shabby Chic.

    As any brand who has survived 26 years, fashion changes, competition pops-up and shopping habits change. And so, as the director of the creative vision, I have worked hard to stay true to the core values of what got my brand famous, while evolving and staying current. It’s not always easy, especially when you standby quality, details and a high level of customer service. But that is so very important to me, even if it comes at a cost.


    Imperfect, comfort, quality, timelessness, authenticity, and beauty are all words of value in the Shabby Chic aesthetic. And so over the years, as my own personal needs and tastes evolve, I have flowed different versions of Shabby Chic into the original aesthetic. You may not always think of Shabby Chic as a minimal aesthetic or our petticoat bedding complimenting a modern setting, but as I design from my authentic needs and tastes, I have found there are many Shabby Chic stories to be told, from ruffles to minimal.

    My kids’ sticky fingers no longer are a daily consideration, but life with friends, dogs, art projects, gardening, the beach and just living is.  So even when working with simple clean lines in my design work and more of a modern aesthetic, mushy cushions, washable covers, and flakey furniture all still welcome true living without the intimidation of perfection.

    All those years ago when I began, my only other competition in slipcovers were the plastic ones to keep upholstery clean.  Now, there are many options with different prices and qualities.  My priority is still to produce product that inspires friends and families to snuggle, and will ultimately become future heirlooms, with soul made possible by the quality of the product. It brings me such joy to see Shabby Chic furniture in a variety of homes (especially on Instagram, I get to see them all), sometimes in a way that shabby is famous for, but also in a minimal or boho setting.  As that shows me, the true value and core of my original story, can sit comfortably any place, and in any space, no matter what is in style.


    Simple Sofa, forever ago… as good today, as it was then…

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