too cool for school: ashley smith x rvca
West Coast cool kids RVCA get clueless with blonde bombshell Ashley Smith. California here we come!
Ashley Smith x RVCA Campaign
School was scary but amazing at the same time, and if you were a Desperate Wannabe, a Burnout or worst; A Plastic, it's OK because the super sexy, American Dream Ashley Smith has teamed up with West Coast skate and surf brand RVCA, there's something for everyone and there's nobody fresher than her clique. When the Californian brand were looking for someone to follow up their collaboration with Erin Wasson, they smelt teen spirit in the gap-toothed babe from Austin, Texas, who was a punk, grunger and blonde bombshell in school. Ashley, now 23 and signed to The Society Management was discovered at a music festival five years ago not long before receiving a steel-toed boot to the head at a Circle Jerks show ("I had mastered the art of the mosh pit by 15…"). Now she lives in Manhattan, hangs out with Sky Ferreira and is the next logical beauty to Lara Stone. Her body and personality both go boom.
How did the collaboration with RVCA come about?
In my early days of modeling, I worked with a photographer by the name of Mike Piscitelli. Piscitelli is a friend of PM Tenore the founder of RVCA. I was immediately drawn to the brand, especially the ANP program and asked to meet with the team. I felt an instant connection to Pat and the crew of pro-skaters, artists and designers he surrounds himself with. We spoke about creating a capsule collection and a few months later I flew out to meet the whole team in Costa Mesa, California. They, hands down, have the coolest office I have ever been too! I instantly felt at home and knew I wanted to be a part of the RVCA crew.
What were your initial ideas for the collection?
I first asked myself "Who and what inspires my style?" and "What defines me?". I was immediately drawn to Bridget Bardot for her flirty yet timeless style and charismatic presence. I looked to the 1950's and 1990's time periods for inspiration and took ideas from my favorite movies Cry Baby and Clueless. My personal style is a mix of feminine prep-school gal meets tomboy chick who wears leather which ties into RVCA's motto "Balance of Opposites". I wanted to highlight the naughty and nice side of my personality through classic pieces with a dash of collegiate charm.
What was it like working with the RVCA team? Were they all skater dudes?
The experience was amazing, and I am really grateful for the opportunity. The whole team is supportive and so much fun to work with. It's not a requirement to skate but the RVCA family is very active, some paint, rock climb, surf etc. One of the highlights with RVCA so far has been my trip to Australia where I had the chance to take lessons from pro-surfer Makua Rothman. That was my first time on a surf board and I somehow managed to ride my first wave! I am a lucky girl to be considered part of the RVCA family.
Do you skate or surf?
I've skated throughout my childhood but I wouldn't say I am a pro. I can keep up with the guys though! Surfing is a new experience but I would love to keep up with it as I had such a blast in Australia!
And the campaign is like a yearbook right? Has Clueless had a part to play by any chance?
Yes I wanted the campaign to feel like a yearbook portraying both the "good girl" and the "bad girl" sides to every teen spirit. And Clueless, of course, is the ultimate icon movie for that complexity that is teen spirit….For my generation at least!
Which photo do you think is most you?
This photo. This is my favorite shot from the campaign images. The photographer, my friend Sandy Kim, managed to perfectly capture that moment before I burst this bubble and ended up with a face full of bubble gum! I love this shot because it is so vibrant and playful; the colors in the photo really pop with the contrast of the pink and teal. I am wearing "Ani" silk blouse from my namesake RVCA collection here with the matching "Emilee" Hair Scarf.
What were you like in school, what clique would you have belonged to?
I would have been at the punk table in the cafeteria. Lots of piercings. Punk music was very important to me; my friends and I would hang out at the local shows pretty regularly back in those days. I had mastered the art of the mosh pit by 15…
The press release says you drew from your younger days wearing rock tee's with hardcore colored hair, when was that?
I experimented a lot with my style over the years. I had a Goth phase in school that transformed into a Punk moment which evolved into a Metal Head… you get the idea right? I think it's important to experiment at a young age and find out who you are. That being said… Rock Tee's will always be a part of my style; I still wear my band tees straight outta Texas!
What colour was your hair?
I think the better question is "what color wasn't my hair?".
Where were you based then and what did you get up to?
I was back home in Austin (Texas). Most of the fun was had at local concerts… shopping was thrift store driven…an occasional adventure to Barton Springs with my friend Caroline. Those trips with her are some of my favorite memories. I love a good adventure!
If you could be a part of any subculture anywhere in the world, past or present which would you choose?
If I could be a part of any subculture in the world past or present I would say Mod. I love the short hair, false eyelashes and short dress vibes! Bold colors and lots of dancing, what's not to love? The Mod trend fits perfectly with my feminine yet tough tomboy style.
How often do you go to California?
I travel to California frequently, at least once a month, to keep on schedule with the next season of my RVCA collection. I am still working on learning to love those red eye flights though.
Would you like to live there?
Yes, I plan to live there again as I was actually born there. That's what my birth certificate says at least as I was too young to remember (I moved at an early age). My grandparents tell me such lovely stories about their experiences living in California that I do want to move back soon.
Is designing something you've always wanted to do?
I knew growing up that I wanted to have a creative job. I was not particularly set on one job per say but I knew I wanted to be creating and experiencing new things. Designing has been such a rewarding process for me.
You did a super-sexy shoot with Will Davidson and Erika Kurihara for i-D back in 2010 and said "I'm not a twig and I've got titties... I think boobs are making a come back. Models have looked like 12-year-old boys for some time now. I think the fashion industry is looking for a change, maybe some curves," have you seen the change since then?
Ah I had so much fun shooting that one! I feel that fashion has definitely evolved in terms of diversity. The whole point is that it connects different people across the spectrum - not isolates them. I see that happening more.
Is that something you kept in mind when designing for RVCA?
Yes to some degree. When I am thinking about what to design I ask myself what can I bring to the table that represents who I am but also relates to the "RVCA girl". I definitely want to make clothes that my friends will wear!
In the film you made with Delfine Bafort, is that a true picture of what modeling often is?
No I don't believe so, I think that short film was about finding yourself.
What's been your worst modeling experience so far?
That's hard to say. Maybe being stuck at an airport for a full night? I dislike airports!
And the best?
That is a tough question. Walking the Chanel show is an unbelievable experience. It is almost like you are not walking down a runway at all but as if you are floating in a dream. I love that Karl takes thing a step farther, and creates such a memorable experience for the crowd.
When did you get to hang out with Sky Ferreira?! What was she like in real life?
Well we have a lot of mutual friends, so we have met a few times. I am sure you are referring to the Instagram photo I posted of us which was at the Purple Magazine party last fashion week. She's really sweet and I love her music!
Text Felicity Kinsella
Campaign Photography Sandy Kim