Another rainy day in Los Angeles. What a treat! It seems we haven't had winter in years. Only unrelenting heat through all seasons. I began to forget what the word 'season' even means. I gave up years ago.
Tuesday, I was to meet and talk business with a dear confidante. So I'd chosen a cold weather ensemble that wasn't too bulky, chic, form fitting and warm. And easy to travel in. You see, I don't have a car, so I ride the metro, a bicycle or walk everywhere. It's important that I travel in style and relative comfort.And I needed to look fabulous, effortlessly authoritative and confident...the way I prepare my look for all meetings. There is nothing meek about the way I approach a meeting with someone of this caliber. Or with anyone at all. You see, I'm rather formal in some things. And meetings I take very seriously. And sparingly. Most meetings are a waste of time, which is why I refuse many of them asked of me. But I reserve the energy for the ones that I truly think I can learn something from. And this day, I had a meeting with a fabulously entertaining, striking, and a true Hollywood OG. My dear friend who has worked tirelessly in fashion for decades. A true pioneer in the industry. The manager of all the greatest, most renowned male models of the last 40 years. I mean, THE MANAGER. He discovered and represented them ALL. He brought fame and fortune to nearly everyone he put under his wing. He is the king at what he does and a total SWEETHEART. He doesn't accept many meetings either, and generally when he does, he is being paid handsomely for his concepts, time and input, and of course, taking no shit. And with good reason, as he is a razor sharp consultant and beacon of ingenuity in all things fashion industry. But of course, he meets with me pro bono. Because this is a person that believes in me at a near maternal level.
Imagine, the two of us, a surprising looking pair, sitting in a divey cafe on Sunset Boulevard, scheming, plotting, planning my empire. You see, Omar is the man I'll write about in my memoir....he'll without question be labeled as the man that 'discovered' me. And on the dance floor, appropriately! A private discoteque in West Hollywood is where he found me. Sometime in 2017. I was dancing, smiling. And alone. Jiving my little heart out with not a care in the world besides the music and the movement. I was wearing a silk shift dress with a floral print from the 1960's with a mandarin collar. It is beautiful. You see, I love dance. Perhaps more than anything in the world. Even more than clothes! Even more than art! Can you believe that?! Dance is THE ULTIMATE FORM OF CREATIVE AND EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION. It doesn't get more authentic than dance. And I will always stand by this statement.
After quite some time, I saw his smile across from me, positively beaming with wonder and excitement, and I swear, he has one of my very favorite smiles in all the world! One that radiates and lights up an entire room, as his energy exudes just as brightly. His arms crossed, shaking his head and laughing at me, mesmerized. Our eyes meet and he yells,
"Who ARE you?!", he laughs. "Are you a celebrity? I don't recognize you. And I know everyone in this town."
I'm taken a bit aback by the flattery, "Oh, I'm just a girl that loves to dance."
"Who are you here with?"
"Oh, I came by myself, like always!"
"That's so chic!"
"Is it?", I asked.
I'm never afraid to go anywhere alone. I adore traversing the world by myself. Don't ask me why. The answer is probably far more tragic than I'm willing to admit. But I have ALL sorts of fun without company. There are always fabulous people to meet, and trust me, I get to meet so many of them.
He extends his long, masculine hand, "I'm Omar, and this is my home!", he exclaims, waving his hand through the glow of the spinning disco ball, which hangs precariously low over the dance floor. I give him a big smile. He seems to immediately fill me with excitement and a strange hope from which I'm usure of the origin.
The rest is history. From that moment on, he was one of my favorite people in life. I mean, just the sight of this man makes me want to leap with joy. Every time. Now that's something special.
Anyhow, Omar is absolutely sure I'm the next big thing. And he has this wonderfully convincing air about him that makes me believe it about myself. What that thing is, we are still trying to figure out. Wardrobe stylist? Photographer? Artist? Model? Creative director? All of it, honey! I want all of it! And so does he. You see, Omar has big, BIG ideas for me. And the man knows his shit. If you want anything done in this town, you go to Omar. This endorsement backed by everyone I know that has the blessing of knowing him. What plans we've discussed, I'll not tell you now. But soon enough, I'll show you. And my god, they are going to be magnificent. So yes. Yes, of course I had to dress the part for such a meeting. This is my future, for Christ's sake!
I chose to wear my ultimate confidence piece, which is a 1950's Spanish style boater hat, of black wool, lined in lilac satin. It is astoundingly gorgeous and commands the full respect of every room it enters. I've paired it with a mauve fitted blazer, a simple pair of gold earrings, a vintage oversized silk scarf of equestrian themed print, black leather gloves, and an outrageous 1960's lucite and gold bracelet that is always, always, the centerpiece of attention. It is perhaps the most unique and exciting piece of jewelry I own. So dear, if you ever see me wearing this bracelet, know that I mean business. That's a fact. I've also chosen to pair this ensemble with a calf skin, 1980's, quilted handbag that has clearly taken ALL of its notes from the classic Chanel quilted handbag. Gold chain, black zipper pull tassel and all. Now, I have to make it clear, I NEVER purchase knock off designer items. Ever. They are so poorly made it's shameful. It's one step removed from carrying a plastic grocery sack as a handbag. And such terrible atrocities are supported through their production. However, this little gem host's it's own label and never falsely claims to be Chanel. And I found it hiding in a Goodwill in my backwoods hometown for $6.99. How it ended up there, I will never understand. But now she lives a new glamorous life in my Los Angeles closet. Oh, the life of a vintage piece!
So here we both sat for hours. Sipping coffee and dreaming big dreams for me. Listening to the endless well of Omar's incredible and outrageous stories. Our meetings are 40% Omar coming up with ideas for me to take over the world, 5% me chiming in only when necessary, and 55% stories about his adventures. I just adore his stories. The things he's seen! You'd never believe them. And of course I'm taking ravenous notes the entire time. I've got a file folder just for the notes I've taken from Omar's talks. The man is good, I'm telling you.
If I took one thing from that meeting, it is this...Omar asked me, "So if a celebrity client asks you to style them, how do you approach that? What is the first thing you would say?" And me being the laughably sweet, mostly naive, people pleaser that I am, stammered and sheepishly said, "uhhhhh...I suppose I would ask them what type of look they are going for....?" I was immediately embarrassed by not having a clever or logical answer. "Wrong!", he replies, smacking his hand on the table immediately. "You see Ashley, you have the VISION. You have the eye that NO ONE else has. This is what you would say to them, and this is what you must say to anyone else that wants to hire you for anything. You tell them, 'you hired me for my talent, for my eye, for my undeniable style, so let me tell you what I see in you'. And if you see nothing, if you find no inspiration in them, then you turn it down. No matter how much money they offer you. You are the one with the power. You are the one that people need. And if you try and force something that isn't there, you're going to produce shitty work. You're going to ruin your reputation, your integrity, and all the things you've worked for. You never settle. And you never fake it."
And that's one drop in the well that is Omar's wonderful brain. I'll never forget that advice. And I hope you don't either. Be confident in your ability. If someone comes to YOU for your skills, take the reigns and steer them to YOUR vision. Just as I had dressed myself to exude confidence, you must outfit your world in a way that brings everyone to their knees at the sight of your artistic touch. Nothing less than that will do.