“Strangers always asks me if I am rockabilly or a dominatrix,” answers Ashley when I ask to describe her style. “But I am neither. I guess I do borrow from those looks but I don’t really ‘own’ either of those styles fully. I would say that my personal style is a bit ‘future retro’: one part 50’s pin-up, one part space-age goth.” However you picture this, Ashley Ruprecht is a vision of sculpted perfection. She prowls the down town night scene as a hostess at Don Hill’s and Kenmare, coiffed, painted and fitted to a dramatic tee. With her jet-black hair, powdered skin and ruby red lips, she’s an intimidating but alluring presence at the door. Like a stone cold curator she casts and rotates the crowd “like the subjects of a constantly changing performance piece”.
Ashley looks like the svelte, bondage sister of Joanie in Mad Men. Not surprisingly the corseted pencil skirts and restricted undergarments of the Fifties are some of her staples. “Girdles, corsets, garter belts and thigh high cuban heel stockings,” she elaborates. “I love the Fifties because there is a dichotomy between glamour and rebellion in the fashion from that decade. I love the stylized pin-up look that was immortalized in Vargas’ drawings and Bettie Page photographs, as well as the rockabilly ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ looks. And then there was always a hat to complete the look!”
Named after her grandmother, Faeth Millinery is one of Ashley’s many professional ‘hats’. Besides her night job, and day job at the International Creative Council of MTV, she started designing and making a line of hats out of necessity for couture head wear that was either not available to her or out of her price range. She’s had no formal training in millinery but with a triple major in painting, drawing and photography from Cooper Union and a background in sculpting and modeling, it was not such a far stretch to try a hand at it. “I would most definitely call myself a novice at hat making, but I think this actually makes me a little more adventurous with my tools and techniques. I don’t actually know the rules I’m breaking.”
Much like her style icons Isabella Blow (“who I had the fortune of working with on a few Testino shoots before she passed”), Diane Pernet, Thierry Mugler’s muse Lariss and Dita Von Teese, Ashley’s grandmother has been the greatest influence on her fashion direction. “My grandmother and her sister were absolutely fabulous,” she looks back with a sense of gratitude. “They instilled a sense of style and grace in me from a young age. From teaching me how to paint my nails, set pins in my hair and cross my legs like a lady, these women will always be an inspiration!” Her grandmother is also responsible for a funny obsession with salt and pepper shakers. “It all started with a Humpty Dumpty set with rhinestone eyes….”