Fashion / Style

Ashley Longshore Emerges as the Unlikely Star of Fashion Week — Fat Shaming Controversy and All

This Loud Mouthed Artist Makes No Apologies for Her Work — or For Having Fun

BY // 09.16.19

NEW YORK — The Hadid sisters — Gigi and Bella — made their regular appearances at New York Fashion Week, along with Kim Kardashian and Serena and her baby. But none of the usual paparazzi magnets attracted as much attention as fashion’s unlikely new star: Ashley Longshore.

The larger-than-life New Orleans-based pop artist and self-described “chubby, middle-aged, white woman” was the Queen of Fashion Week, where she was the center of attention at two major fashion shows and attracted cult-like worship— along with a swirl of  controversy that she revels in — everywhere she went.

“Two years ago I couldn’t receive a seat to any of the shows,” Longshore said backstage before the start of the Dennis Basso show, where she was scheduled to close it in a runway look created especially for her by the designer. “All you need is a Bergdorf’s collaboration, your own restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman, an installation with Diane von Furstenberg and to paint live at Christian Siriano to get a good seat at a fashion show. It’s wild.”

Longshore attracted the attention of fashion week officials after her first-ever female solo show for Bergdorf Goodman sold $1.3 million of paintings on Instagram in under two hours. They named her New York Fashion Week’s first official artist-in-residence, and she created a wall of pink pop-art sayings (“Have the cake, eat the cake,” “Carbs are not the devil,” “You look cute, don’t delete later”) at the entrance to the shows at Spring Street Studios.

Siriano’s show featured several gigantic paintings of such fashion icons as Lady Gaga, Laverne Cox, Frida Kahlo and Audrey Hepburn lining the runway. Longshore had created the artwork especially for the occasion and during the show, she touched up each painting. It was surreal to see her working on a portrait of Coco Rocha as the model walked by in a cascading ruffle tulle mint green and black gown.

Longshore, whose bold contemporary artwork has earned her the sobriquet the “Feminist Warhol,”  has been friends with Siriano “for many years” and the collaboration came about after “he sent me a picture of his mood board (for the spring 2020 collection), and it was all my paintings and my fabric that he had. He said, ‘You and (artist) Jeff Koons have inspired this whole collection,’ ” she recalled.

“We were hanging out one night and (Siriano) said, ‘Why don’t you paint live in the middle of my show?’, and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, yes.’ We’ve been planning this for a few months, and it was so much fun. It was such a rush.

“I’ve not a live painter. I don’t do performance art like that. It was a high like I’ve never felt before. It was a bigger high than any dick I’ve ever had in my life.” (We forgot to point out that Longshore swears like a trucker, throwing F-bombs and other colorful language left and right.)

The Showstopper

Three years ago, Longshore met Basso at Cal-a-Vie spa in California and they, too, became instant friends. When crafting his inspiration for his spring 2020 collection, Basso at first focused on the late Jayne Wrightsman, the one-time grande dame of New York society who was a tiny patrician woman, but later included the curvy, outspoken Longshore to celebrate women of all types and shapes.

“I called (Ashley) and I said, ‘I’d love you to paint my pants. And I’d love for you to wear something you painted. And be the finale of my show.’ And she said OK, and here we are. She’s a real showstopper,” Basso said backstage.

Indeed, Longshore was positioned as the last model in the show, wearing a Basso-designed black silk sheath dress and a flowing organza cape she hand-painted that incorporated 15 yards of fabric to match his pants.

Ashley Longshore poses in front of her art installation wall at New York Fashion Week
Ashley Longshore poses in front of her art installation wall at New York Fashion Week. (Photo by Alexandra Arnold/Courtesy of Ashley Longshore)

Backstage beforehand, she insisted that, despite her fashion week experiences, she’s no high-fashion model.

“I feel like one of those little puppies, a little Peckingese in the Westminster Dog Show. I’ve been brushed and fluffed and painted,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I’m the star of fashion week. I’m just here celebrating all this artistry. I’m such a lover of fashion because it really illuminates how I feel on the inside.

“And I’m happy, and I like to have fun, dammit. Big, loud and in your face.”

Longshore drew some criticism with her fashion week art installation, which is a compilation of phrases, including one that reads, “You Don’t Look Fat.” Writers for Glamour and In Style took Longshore to task for fat-shaming, which seems ironic since the artist is anything but petite.

“It’s caused quite the stir, ” Longshore said. “But where I’m from in the South, I was brought up (believing) the worst thing you could ever be is fat. Clearly I’m not like a size zero or size 2.  I’m just me and and I love me some mother fucking me. But it’s caused quite the conversation and I love that. It’s about a meeting of the minds. It’s about learning and growing and art and artistry.”

Among Longshore’s other fashion-related projects are a limited-edition Maybelline Liquid Lipstick x Ashley Longshore line that launched last month and a Rizzoli coffee table book, Ashley Longshore: I Do Not Cook, I Do Not Clean, I Do Not Fly Commercial that comes out next month, followed by the launch of a new namesake handbag line, including the Ashley Longshore tote.

And she says she’s in talks to return to Houston for an art show/party. She made a big splash late last fall when she came to town for a pop-up party featuring her art in an unfinished space on the ninth floor of Tilman Fertitta’s Post Oak Hotel. The two hit it off.

“I love him and I love that he’s self-made. I love his hustle,” Longshore said. “I like to surround myself with really smart fucking people. He’s a smart fucking person. And I love how he’s been so supportive of my artwork.”

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - On The Runway Spring 2020