story by Graham M. Steffen
photos by Ned & Aya Rosen
hair styling by Hitomi Mura
make-up by Isabel Ruiz
model is Theresa from Ford Women
The interplay between life and death, decay and rebirth, are common elements in the world of art. It is rare, however, for a fashion designer to be able to illustrate these tensions in their work simply as a matter of practicality. Ashley Lloyd, a young milliner based in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, balances the grotesque and the beautiful on a razor’s edge. She utilizes a variety of remains and relics that includes skulls, horns, insects and deconstructed birds, among other artifacts.
“They affect me, or hold some power over me in some way, shape, or form. I’m drawn to them, whether the attachment stems from fear, nostalgia, or beauty.”
Drawing on inspiration from her childhood in Jacksonville, Florida, where she accompanied her father on hunting and fishing trips, as well as from visits to Italian reliquaries in Florence, Ms. Lloyd makes hats that recall the Renaissance interest in the macabre but also involve the wildlife and naturalism of rural America.
“I love items with a history – remnants of a life once had.”
Viewing the works firsthand, one gains an appreciation of the craftsmanship; each feather, beetle, or bone is delicately and exactingly placed, yet the disorder of nature is still maintained, as though the materials had chosen their own positioning. It is obvious that the creator knows when to step back from a piece and let it stand alone, without fussing over the details.
“Hats hold a unique power and ability to transform their wearers. I love the way hats inform garments and vice versa, and as a result I find a tremendous amount of creative satisfaction in collaborating with fashion designers.”
The pieces may not be instantly accessible by mainstream clientele, but fashion-forward individuals such as Lady Gaga have already been contacting Ms. Lloyd to commission pieces to be paired with the likes of Valentino. This long tradition, wherein two masters in complementary fields are able to reinforce and set off each others’ designs in breathtaking combinations, is likely to be a strong part of Ms. Lloyd’s future.