Photo @ MANNY LLANURA PHOTOGRAPHY
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl
Imagine if you will a darkened room filled with a crowd hushed by anticipation. So quiet that you can hear the person next to you breathing. Then suddenly sounds of a person beating a drum breaks the silence as the air fills with the thick scent of burning incense. Out come two gentleman, who look like they just walked off the set of the film, The Craft. Visually they are a cross between a gothic fashion model and a new age priest. One carries a large swinging pentagram shaped incense burner as the other walks beside him banging on a Native American styled drum, chanting prayers to invoke the Divine down a candle-lined runway.
Trust me, this isn’t something you would except at a fashion show. Even one in Los Angeles. Yet that is just designer Ashton Michael created, the unexpected. As a stylist and designer Ashton Michael as a reputation for creating stunningly beautiful pieces for some biggest names in the world. I mean of course Beyonce, the Queen B herself and Rihanna who he spent last year on tour with. After the experience of working with these Divas, I can’t say I am surprised to find that Ashton drew the inspiration for his latest collect from the Goddess herself.
I would say as far as the unexpected goes, Ashton may have gotten more then he bargained for when his invoking chants seemed to have literally turned to lights off during his show. Yet this sudden darkness only added to beauty of the moment for the crowd was inspired to lite up the runway up with the flash lights on their phones. Totally a fashionable ‘Bruce Springsteen’ moment!
Ashton Michael, Spell Bound
Black Chalk – So darling…
Ashton Michael – I just summoned too hard!
Black Chalk – You called on the Goddess, and she was like “Bitch, I am here.”
Ashton Michael – And she decided no one else needed to see me.
Black Chalk – No. She wanted to walk the runway with Her veil on…
Ashton Michael – That was it. That was it.
Black Chalk – Ashton darling, we are here are LAFW. You are known for your fantastic styling of everyone from Beyonce to Rihanna…
Ashton Michael – Just to name a few.
Black Chalk – So tell me what inspired this collection.
Ashton Michael – Ironically, witchcraft. Eclipses. Meditation. Astrology. Staying Grounded. Spirit animals. There was so many elements that I really want to express, that weren’t costumes. They were things I saw in a meditation, or when I was doing a chakra balancing. An animal I envisioned. The translation I didn’t want to be literal. I wanted it to be interruptive. Like o-rings on garments, that was to symbolize the different cycles of the Moon. Because you see different sizes of the Moon. The fringe, was for the spirit animal Raven, so you got movement. I had velvet as black I could get, so it would be the night sky. The layers were meant to be deep, because it was the Universe, and the Universe is so deep we will never fully understand it. So why not try to interpret it in something people can relate to and wear.
Black Chalk – When you look at fashion, you look at… Things for women?
Ashton Michael – No, I dress both men and women. I started as a mens wear designer, then women started dressing like men.
Black Chalk – You are attempting to bring out their inner divinity.
Ashton Michael – Yes.
Black Chalk – Are you a ‘Witch’?
Ashton Michael – I would not classify myself as that, as I don’t practice.
Black Chalk – Do you believe in magic?
Ashton Michael – Yes. I believe in magic. I respect it too much to say otherwise.
Black Chalk – Love how you opened your show up with a ritual drumming and incense.
Ashton Michael – Yes, the boys with the drum and the incense are ‘Witches.’ They are great friends, and they have a beautiful shop. Completely beautiful and grounded spirits.
Black Chalk – What is their shop?
Ashton Michael – Spell Bound Sky, it is in Silver Lake. It is beautiful and they do meditations.
Black Chalk – Would you say this collection is inspired by modern Goddess movement?
Ashton Michael – Yes.
Black Chalk – What are your favorite pieces from this show? Tell me about the stories that go along with them.
Ashton Michael – The fringe jacket for the girls I love. Because when she puts her arms out, it feels and looks like it is a movement. No matter what she does there is a fluidity, a heaviness, a darkness and there is a light to it. The balance is really beautiful. For the men, I would say my favorite piece would be finally piece. Because I never do anything that is super feminine – we did a train, we did a strong shoulder, we did fringe, we did a hat. We did all these things I never do as a designer. I felt like showing a silhouette that is overly feminine but still super fucking strong, was like a ‘fuck you’ to all the stereotypes of what you have to make to become famous.
Black Chalk – What do you want people to feel when they wear your pieces?
Ashton Michael – Like they can turn off the fucking lights! That is how I want them to feel. I want them to feel empowered, enlightened. I want them to have high vibrations. When you put a piece of clothing on. Be it vintage and you get a weird image in your head because it may have an energy that relates to you. Or when you put something new on and it is 10K. You feel “Oh My God, I am So Rich!” Clothing has a power to transform you into something. And I feel like if you can incorporate a spirituality, something really powerful then why not?
Black Chalk – When did you get into fashion? What was that moment?
Ashton Michael – My friends said we are going to fashion school. So I tagged along. I had been sewing since I was 13, so fashion was easy for me. It was there and I got ‘it.’ I understood it and I understood the technique of it. It was like ‘do I do it because I can or because I love it?’ I was testing the waters.
Black Chalk – You just knew it.
Ashton Michael – Yes, I got it and it turned out great.
Black Chalk – You have a long list of celebrities you have worked with as a stylist. What is the one thing you always try to impart to them?
Ashton Michael – Comfort and empowerment. I want them to feel great in what they are wear and know that no one is going to talk shit about them. I want them to feel like they are going to get every trend setting compliment out there. But I don’t want them to worry about it. I want them to be like “I am not ‘doing this’ It just is!”
Black Chalk – What is the 1st fashion piece you ever created?
Ashton Michael – Oh God! Some hideous t-shirt that was pieced together from Michael’s arts and crafts. It was build out of pre-made suede patches and glue. It was absolutely hideous. But I thought it was so ‘arty.’
Black Chalk – Name the one lesson you have learned in your career, that you wish someone has told you from the beginning?
Ashton Michael – The one lesson?
Black Chalk – You know that little piece of advice, that sounds like “Bitch, you didn’t tell me this before I got into this?”
Ashton Michael – That this industry is shady. That people are incredibly selfish. I think the thing I love to do is my crew and my network is family. If it is another designer who is better, I will absolutely put them up for a job. Or if it is an accessory line that my friend has, I will use it. It is my friend’s accessory line you saw on the runway. My other friend, Joshua from Majesty Black, did all the mens gloves. The whole thing about fashion is coming up together, bringing unity and not being in afraid of someone else’s talent. Embrace, nurture and promote it. I think that is best thing. There should be no selfishness. If someone is better then you, they are better. Don’t work out of fear, work out of confidence that you can to work at that calibre.
Black Chalk – What is the difference between styling and designing a collection?
Ashton Michael – Styling is taking a pre-existing image that you add pieces to, and draw inspiration from. Designing is all about creating. It is about art direction. When styling you have a reference, when designing you can have no reference and creating magic.
Black Chalk – What is the hardest part of being a designer?
Ashton Michael – The show having no lights…
Black Chalk – The best part of being a designer?
Ashton Michael – That I get to turn my happiness, my sorrow, my joys and my life into art. And people get to wear that.
Black Chalk – It seems like everything you do is a spiritual practice of you. How do you tune yourself into that flow?
Ashton Michael – It is. Practice. It is like being in a relationship with the Universe. It isn’t just going to happen. You have to work at it. You have to believe in it and know there will be ups and downs. Roll with it.
Black Chalk – What is something you always want to say, but never get the chance to? This is your platform to say it!
Ashton Michael – Own your power! Know that no body, no entity, and no outside source can stop you from being anything you want to be.
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