Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

Monthly Archives: September 2016

  • Play Time & Make Believe

    A long long time ago, my Mum supported our family with a business of buying, restoring and selling antique dolls.  I have always credited her with teaching me (unknowingly) the art of imperfection, as I would observe her process of restoring her antique dolls and noting even once fully restored, her dolls always maintained their evidence of a life lived through chips and tears, but still quite lovely.


    While I was never much interested in playing with dolls, I did value the creativity in storytelling and playtime that her dolls inspired. From time to time, a doll’s house would cross her path for her restoration process.  So it’s not such a surprise when I come across a dolls house that speaks to me for restoration, I take it on as a labor of love.

    Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 9.13.17 AM

    I like to restore them to their original condition and even layer in additional details, that were perhaps never there, but still feel authentic (wooden floors, vintage wallpaper, primitively made furniture and miniature bedding).

    Dollhouse Collage

    Today there are a million more options for make believe and playtime for children, but the tradition of simple playtime within the walls of a dollhouse, to me, still inspires a creativity in a much deeper way than can be achieved on a computer. So as I find worn out and discarded dolls houses, I will continue enjoying giving these once cherished little houses, a whole new world for make believe in this real world we live.

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  • Traveling Beauty

    Gypsy at heart but a homebody in my soul...


    Regardless of my life long fear of flying, I moved 6,000 miles from my English roots a forever ago, and strategically placed my stores across the county, causing me to be a reluctant member of the "jet set" club.

    In truth, I am a fearful flyer.  I have a specific routine and requirements of travel.  Not so much diva, but hi-maintenance.  I rarely fly at night and never take off in a storm.  I must have a window seat.  I usually interview the pilot before we take off to ask about the conditions of flying for the route ahead.  I have been known to abandon a flight if I don't get good feelings from the pilot.  I'm quite exhausting to travel with, although I say very little as I am super busy listening to the engines and looking out the window for oncoming planes.

    singapore airlines


    I only book a hotel where the room can be accessed by stairs, as I am completely afraid of elevators too.

    Because of the cumbersomeness of my travel, I keep my travel baggage to the minimum, so I  can change plans as needed depending on my fears.  I pack lightly so that I can keep my bags on the plane, in case a quick getaway if needed.  For me, our RASCCouture travel bag is the perfect solution. Big enough to pack a lot, but not too big or heavy to lift into the luggage hold… and it’s so pretty too.

    Every season I design a new one, I have quite the collection and I appreciate the distraction of beauty, while I journey the world, in trepidation.

    5 Things I Can't Travel Without:

    1. 1.Blue jeans
    2. 2. Leather jacket
    3. 3. Cowboy boots
    4. 4. Music
    5. 5. A top with glitter for an emergency fancy evening

    travel blog picture

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  • Beautiful Common Threads

    Old jeans and scruffy cowboy boots are my wardrobe staples but I have always had a love affair with lace and frills, as these counter balance my feminine and romantic side.


    I have the same appreciation for decorating my home, rather simply, but still with accents of soft faded florals, linens and laces. I tend to prefer vintage laces and linens from the Victorian days, as I love the handmade qualities of crochet lace when attached to sometimes starched, sometimes heavy weight rumpled linen or cotton.

    I came across some inspiration pages from a Tim Walker book where he featured Russian Folk homes. There were many photos of inspiration for me from this chapter, for many reasons. Specifically to what would be a new bedding collection, a photo of a little Russian boy on a faded red silk ruffled bed cover, layered over a crochet edge. This combined with an old vintage cloth of mine, was enough inspiration for me to communicate my vision to my head designer and production sourcing team. (It always takes that vital village to translate my vision to actual product.)



    Cluny Lace Process


    And it’s from this combination of inspirations, that the beautiful Cluny Lace Collection was born… Duvets, shams, a dust-ruffle and tablecloth. It took a few go arounds of sampling to get the lace just right, as especially when designing simple things, it’s all about the subtle details. I am happy with how we captured the feminine elements that I love, in a chunky, less frilly way.

    Cluny Lace_2

    The Cluny collection has found its way into our signature collection, likely to be around for quite some time. Little did Tim Walker and the little russian boy know it would spark such inspiration for me.

    Cluny Lace Bedding Collection_beauty

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