Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

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Rachel's Blog

  • Traveling Beauty

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

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    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.

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    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

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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.

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    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.)

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    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.

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    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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  • Creative Collab With Lucy Ledger

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    I have always identified with the beauty in-between the cracks of life, and have always loved leftovers.  That concept has been at the core of Shabby Chic, the idea that "one man’s junk is another man’s treasure", These values can be seen throughout my collections over the years.  In fact, yards and yards of freshly laundered fabric go into cutting a couture slipcover, the little leftovers of fabric are always scooped up and turned into pillows that will sit proudly in many homes.

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    I inherited bags and bags of scraps of ribbons, laces, velvets and silks from my mother. All leftovers from her days of restoring antique dolls. Each little inch is so precious and in need of sharing.  I have been holding onto these treasures waiting for the right project.

    Recently while in London I had the good fortune to meet Lucy Ledger, a talented artist/card maker.  We decided to design a collection of cards using my beloved scraps.  My mum would be thrilled to know some of her bits and pieces were recognized as treasures of value.  I am proud to say, the card collection is now available in stores and online.

    Meet the lovely artist Lucy Ledger, read what inspires her and drew her to this project.

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    Rachel Ashwell: Tell us a little bit about your background as an illustrator and graphic designer?

    Lucy Ledger: I have been an illustrator and graphic designer for just over 16 years. I studied illustration in Manchester, UK and then went on to have a decade long career in graphic design. I founded my own design studio in March 2010 and it has since expanded quite rapidly. My style of working is hand painted elements and patterns married with digital design – I love layering up tactile materials, faded, rustic, distressed and primarily use soft colour palettes. I collect and scan materials and often re-work vintage illustrations and patterns.

    RA: What inspires your work?

    LL: I started my company when my Grandma passed me an old scrapbook containing greeting cards from the early 19th Century. The beauty in the artwork and the precious messages in the cards inspired me to want to create my own designs for people to treasure. Along with the whole notion of nostalgia, my primary inspiration day to day is interior design, I think that’s why I loved the Shabby Chic brand from the beginning, also, I live in an 18th century English cottage and that has helped inspire and evolve my eclectic style of design.

    RA: Where is your favorite place to create?

    LL: I have a small studio in an English village and it’s perfect for me; light bright and airy – I also absolutely love working outdoors where possible, collecting things to scan and photograph, emerging myself with nature and seeing old buidings becoming part of the natural landscape is so inspiring for new designs.

     RA: How did you become interested in this project with Shabby Chic?

    LL: I have always wanted to work with Rachel and felt her interior style and my design style would work really well together. Rachel has been a huge inspiration to me and I have followed her journey from the beginning. Her style of design is just beautiful and effortless but more than that, the Shabby Chic brand has retained a real authenticity – it has stood the test of time and evolved without losing it’s core values and that is something to be hugely admired. I feel very grateful to have had this opportunity for us to work together.

    RA: What was your favorite part of the project?

    LL: My favourite part of the project was exploring the history of the precious little scraps and presenting them in a way that documented their part in Shabby Chic history - whether it was from the fabric archives or a little piece Rachel picked up to use purely as inspiration. I’m so happy we could find a way to use the fabrics as they have such a tie to Rachel’s design journey, I think anyone who has followed the brand over the years would love to own one of these little pieces of design history.

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