‘Who doesn’t want to look like a goddess for the night?’
As the landmark V&A exhibition ‘Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto’ opens this month, ELLE takes over the museum with three breakthrough actors. They show us how they wear their favourite classic pieces from the house – and share their own style stories.
A teenage passion for vintage Hollywood movies – and their costumes – sparked the actor’s love of design.
Fashion is a ‘completely different world’ to the one Simone Ashley, 28, inhabited growing up between Surrey and California. ‘I was never like, “Oh my gosh, I really want that handbag.” Where and how I grew up, I was always outdoors. So I wore what I could go and play in and whatever my mum put me in,’ she explains.
Ashley is now, of course, a world- famous actor and fashion-month darling – a front-row fixture and regular on best- dressed lists thanks to her flair for glamour. She’s a woman who looks at home in some of the world’s most dazzling labels, from Chanel logo-embossed platform heels to shimmering 16Arlington dresses.
The first fashion show she attended was in Paris for Chanel’s SS22 presentation, which celebrated the golden era of the Nineties catwalk complete with photographers lining the runway and George Michael covers blaring over the speakers.
The show resonated with Ashley, who spent her teens in California watching films from the same decade. Among the most treasured pieces in her wardrobe is a vintage Hawaiian shirt that belonged to her mother, reminding her of the Tarantino movies they’d watch together.
The era’s pop culture and fashion left an indelible mark on her own personal style. The trademark tumbling curls Julia Roberts had in Pretty Woman is a look Ashley emulates often, while Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard is another influence: ‘The coolest hair, the coolest outfits,’ she says.
In keeping with the Nineties theme, mini-skirts and knee-high boots are a combo Ashley frequently wears; her most recent purchase was a pair of Paris Texas boots. ‘My boots are very dear to me,’ she says, recalling her first time visiting Chanel’s iconic Rue Cambon store in Paris ahead of the show. ‘I was just so drawn to the boots!’
Author: Olivia Blair
Published on Sept 7th, 2023