After three and a half years of tending to some of the most expansive closets in the land (we mean, go back far enough and there are enough Valentino rockstuds, Balenciaga city bags and Céline, well, everything, to outfit even the most ardent never-wears-the-same-thing-twice editor), sometimes the most refreshing thing of all is to rummage through a closet that has the odd idiosyncratic vintage piece — an old rock tee treasured since high school and gold and turquoise jewelry as likely found in a junk shop as an estate sale. (Don't get us wrong — all this isn’t to say that we don’t still freak over some seriously how-the-hell-did-you-find-this rare Chanel or a good Trapeze bag. Hence, you know, us working where we do.)
With that in mind, you can imagine how visiting model and first-time designer (for RVCA, NBD) Ashley Smith at her East Village walk-up on a sunny spring afternoon was kind of like going over to your way cooler friend’s apartment and exploring all of her collectibles, knick-knacks and piles of expertly sourced vintage, Opening Ceremony and, well, RVCA (duh). We mean, the girl is living proof that Texans are just about the sweetest, most gracious people, like, ever, as she pulled out one after another of her favorite skirt-cardigan combos, which we quickly learned was a signature (her vintage Alaia knit with Opening Ceremony skirt getup was particularly adorable).
Since being discovered (appropriately) at SXSW five years ago, Smith has been shot by everyone from Ellen von Unwerth to Sølve Sundsbø and Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Naming Lauren Hutton as her modeling hero (gap-toothed beauties, unite!), Smith has that same kind of untouchable coolness as her mentor. Suffice it to say, after watching her strike pose after pose (she can go from teenage ingénue to leggy sex kitten in one frame, you guys) for our photog Jake, we quickly got that she kind of has the whole portrait thing down pat, leaving us to our own devices when it came to sorting through her enviable collection of goodies. To keep it simple, let’s just say that those old (and kind of, well, hackneyed) model-off-duty rules do not apply to Smith. If it wasn’t obvious with her scarf-printed, high-waisted hot pants and holographic lug sole brogues, one glance at her collection of fluorescent wigs made it more than apparent. It makes sense, then, that her collection for RVCA, her first of six (she’s no flash in the pan), isn’t your standard street wear uniform of black jeans and white T-shirts. “It’s purely based on my essentials,” she told us. And, essentials in Ashley Smith World mean varsity cardis, pleated minis (paired with requisite knee socks), cropped sweaters and leather biker vests. When the collection becomes available to the masses (that printed sleeveless maxi dress will be ours), prepare yourselves for a little Ashley Smith-style boldness. After all, this is a girl who went by the nickname Skittles in high school. Because of her multicolored hair, of course. It’s a little thing called individuality. See what we mean by the whole breath of fresh air thing?