Several years ago, Rachel Ashwell came on the decorating scene with something new and refreshing: her “Shabby Chic” look. It was a look that took faded, past-their-prime pieces and elevated them to elegance.
Now, Rachel Ashwell didn’t invent Flea Market Style. (Sorry sots like me had been doing that for a long time.) But Ashwell did invent a new look for flea market pieces. Unlike kitschier second-hand styles, her look employed a pristine, white backdrop for her rumpled beauties: rusted garden statues, chipped tea pots, unframed oil painting, and sun-bleached floral linens. Everything looked somehow fresh and fabulous. And instead of masking “flaws,” the Shabby Chic look embraced them and championed their laid-back grace.
I love the Shabby Chic look. As a garage sale goddess, I love the new decorating door that Rachel Ashwell opened up for my house. But even more than that, I love the Ashwell’s look for its design philosophy. I think it’s thanks to Ashwell, in part, that we can accept today’s “imperfect” pieces as fashion-forward. (And as a girl that makes loads of imperfect pieces, I’m forever grateful!) We see shabby design everywhere now: rusted patinas, time-worn ephemera, collaged scrapbooking, altered art. And from tangled, multi-strand necklaces to grungy, industrial art-jewelry, the sloppy look in jewelry is pretty hot, too. I like it!
In my own jewelry world, my imperfect jewelry has its own vibe. Always a little bohemian, my shabby look has globe-trekking vibe (shocking, I know.) My current crush is imperfectly wire-wrapped pieces. Gloppy, messy masses of tangled wire. Delicious. And I like how each one is necessarily one-of-a-kind (as I’m getting more and more bored with mass-produced jewelry).
I’ve worked with different tones of metal and different metals translate the piece for a slightly different style. My wire-wrapped jewelry thanks Ashwell everyday for its acceptably sloppy style. Bright silver wire has a Thai attitude, while blackened wire has a current, so next-minute like of swag. The effect is always effortless and yeah-I’m-cool.
Thank you, Ms. Ashwell.