The first conversation I had with makeup artist Ashley Robinson was about koi fish. I was on my way to a fashion shoot at which she was doing hair and makeup, and she called me on my cell. She would be late, she said, because two of the koi that lived in the pond running through her modernist house had died.
Robinson, in her optimistic, otherworldly way, had to say goodbye to them properly. Not knowing Robinson well at the time, this seemed a bit quirky. But after years of working with her, it all makes perfect sense. While she made people look flawless for a living, she was beautiful in the truest sense of the word: In her perceptive, spirited, soulful way, she made life light — even in its somber moments. When she passed away unexpectedly on February 28, at the age of 48, she not only left a void in the industry in which she was legend, but she left a space in the lives of the countless people she profoundly impacted.
Friends have referred to her as the consummate earth mother — a force of nature who had a way of innately understanding people. She was calming in that way, yet full of life.
During a memorial service, appropriately held at Lee Harvey’s, the mix of mourners says it all: There were models whose memories of Ashley had little to do with her talents with a makeup brush, but much to do with her ability to make them feel safe and confident. There were photographers, hair and makeup artists, art directors, stylists and editors who couldn’t imagine working without her collaborative and positive presence. There was her family and her closest friends, who remembered her for her gentle strength, her effortless grace and for the depth of love she had for her two sons.
As for me, I think I will miss her bright-eyed giggle the most — the one that made you feel connected and reminded you that this was one of the most colorful, interesting people you’ve ever met.