Senior Designer Spotlight: An Interview with Ashley Waters-Schmitt ’15

Ashley Line board

Tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from etc.

My name is Ashley. I am originally from Buffalo, but spent over ten years living abroad. I have lived in many different places in my life. This was often tough as a kid, but has given me great inspiration in my work through the many places and people I have encountered. I love traveling and meeting new people. I am also a mother, to an adorable four-year-old son who inspires me every single day.

How did you get started in design and what inspired you to become a designer?

I have always loved clothing. One of my favorite things to do with my mum growing up was to shop and put together great outfits. It was always so much fun and the confidence a great outfit can give a person is inspiring to me. The possibilities of what you can do with a collection are endless. Countless hours looking through magazines and window-shopping filled my head with ideas. I originally pursued other areas of interest, but later came back to school to follow my dream. It was the perfect decision and I cannot wait to spend every day doing what I love.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

My inspiration for this year’s collection comes from nature and the beautiful things that it provides us.

Describe your collection in one word:


Tell us the theme behind your designs for Runway.

My designs for Runway 8.0 are inspired by the WGSN theme History 2.0. The inspiration comes from the idea of recalling the past while pushing forward into the future. This includes the use of natural, raw materials as I have done for this years show. I have combined materials more often used in history with modern and new techniques to create my collection.

What do you think is it about your work that sets you apart?

I think that my use of unusual materials to create entire garments is a new, and innovative approach that makes my collection stand out.


What other activities do you enjoy doing besides design?

My favorite activity is of course hanging out with my awesome son. My second biggest passion is photography, a hobby I hope to develop more ineptly after graduation. I also love dancing and horseback riding.

What are your goals for designing? What type of person do you imagine you’re designing for?

My goals as a designer are continually changing. There is not one specific person I am always imagining when I design. The person I imagine wearing my clothing changes with the different inspirations for each project. I aim to be a versatile and flexible designer.

Could you give us a little preview of what to expect at Runway? What type of collection are you showing? What are the inspirations behind it/the philosophy guiding it?

My collection is called Rustic Roots. It was created using only deerskin leather. I was inspired to create this collection after seeing a lot of waste of deer products. I felt strongly that if an animal is going to be killed we should be utilizing as much of it as possible. People in the past were experts at both appreciating and using the gifts that nature gave them. I think it is important for the preservation of our future and the environment of the planet that we relearn how to live in this way. I felt that taking a material often wasted and turning it into a fashion collection was an important innovation in the way we need to start living. Another great advantage is that even the scraps left over after sewing can be recycled into products, such as leather lace, and reused. I threw almost nothing away.

Could you talk a little bit about your experience in Runway? I don’t think a lot of our readers are very clear on what it is/what the experience is like.

Preparing for a fashion show is hard work. The fall semester was spent brainstorming and sketching. After finalizing designs you then must spend a significant amount of time rafting patterns and draping to create your designs. The next step is fitting all these garments on the models. Finally, you can begin sewing. There can be many frustrations along the way, especially in perfecting fit. It is amazing to see your designs come to life from a piece of paper to a final garment.

What can you tell us about the color scheme, construction and how you went about making the collection on the more technical side?

For this particular collection, I wanted to keep the color scheme simple in order to highlight the material itself. I also feel that the inspiration of the past often comes from a need to bring more simplicity into our busy, technology heavy lives. When constructing my collection, I had to research many different leather-working techniques, as well as come up with a few of my own. Working with leather required a lot of top stitching and sewing very slowly. If you make a mistake with leather, you cannot take the stitches out, as there are permanent holes. It requires a lot of concentration and a lot of creativity if mistakes are made.

Runway Fashion Show student portraits.

Post-grad plans?

After graduation, I intend to work as a designer in the industry. I am eager to continue my learning within the industry. I would eventually like to start my own company and perhaps continue into post-grad education.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s