Connected \\ September 9, 2021
Designer Ashley Rose to unveil new collection at PEM inspired by Salem witch trials
An evening dress by designer Alexander McQueen, which will be on view in PEM's The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming. Dress is from the In Memory of Elizabeth How, Salem, 1692, Ready-to-wear collection, fall/winter 2007. Velvet, glass beads and satin. Gift of anonymous donors in London who are friends of Peabody Essex Museum, 2011.44.1. Photo by Bob Packert/PEM.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Usually however the day goes, I put on music and try not to go into designing with a plan. What happens, happens. For me, I feel like when you plan and it goes wrong, it feels like everything goes wrong.
Q: Do you primarily create for runways and music videos?
A: Definitely. I’d love to one day design looks for film. I think that’s my end goal. It’s when I do fashion shows, I enjoy presentations so much. It’s about creating a scene rather than selling the garments, which is the worst thing a fashion designer can say. The music videos are a step toward that. Growing up I worked at record stores for over a decade and combining both worlds has always been important to me. It’s why I work with a lot of musicians.
Q: Talk about your process. Do you sketch or does it come to you once you see the fabric?
A: When I see material at fabric stores, I have to go touch everything. When I see something that I want to work with, it’s when I get a vague idea. When I’m building a collection, I’ll start five pieces at once. Then start adding. They’re all variants of each other. It’s all about visuals and how I think it will work on the dress form.
Q: How did the pandemic affect this new collection?
A: This is probably the most frustrating collection because I’ve beaded every single piece. Each piece has probably over 800 beads. It was about patience. Once you get through it, then you can start building on the fun stuff. This is definitely the most detailed collection. And I’ve learned to not rush and to take my time.
The designer, left, adds finishing touches to a piece.
Q: How did the idea come about to reveal your new collection at PEM?
A: It was ironic because I reached out years ago about using the space when I first started doing shows in Salem. The timing is perfect. It’s around the anniversary of my brother’s death, who was my biggest influence and motivator. I’m very much looking forward to it.