NYFW's Ashley Longshore on Magnifying Her Inner Self: "You Do Not Look Fat. The World is Ready for You."

Artist Ashley Longshore on the runway at the Dennis Basso spring 2020 fashion show - Publicity - H 2019
Alexandra Arnold

"Confidence is the most amazing thing you could ever have on at fashion week; the rest of it is really just extraneous," says Longshore, Artist-in-Residence.

"It’s a big fashion week for a chubby, middle-aged white woman," New York Fashion Week’s first official artist in residence, the Hollywood-beloved, New Orleans-based pop portrait artist Ashley Longshore (collected by Blake Lively, Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek) told The Hollywood Reporter. "I wear a necklace set in diamonds that I designed that says 'I would fuck me' and I mean it. I put it on every morning and do naked jumping jacks in front of the mirror. Then I French kiss myself in the mirror and yell [that phrase] at the top of my lungs and then I just go get after it. Try it; you’ll love it. And you don’t have to French kiss yourself the first day; that’s kind of advanced."

Longshore made a splash on the spring-summer 2020 runways of fashion designers Christian Siriano and Dennis Basso and beyond with her confident messaging, along with the promotion of the limited-edition Maybelline Liquid Lipstick x Ashley Longshore line that launched last month. "Ain’t nothing like a fresh lip and a manicure and a pedicure. Honey, I can take on the world after that. I don't know what it is, but it just works!" Longshore told THR of her Super-Stay Matte Ink lip gloss.

Longshore’s installation at New York Fashion Week’s hub, Spring Studios, included a framed wall of her pieces with positive mantras such as "She’s coming in hot," "You are a queen," "You do not look fat" and "Carbs are not the devil." The artist spoke to THR about her experience.

"When they asked me to be the artist in residence for New York Fashion Week, I was like, ‘Wow. I'm an artist from Montgomery, Alabama. Who would have thunk it?’ I wanted to blast that space with optimism and positivity. I feel like there's this whole angle in the fashion world where we can either pick ourselves apart and say, ‘Why am I not a size 2? Why do these boots not fit over my calf muscles?’ Or we can embrace the fact that this is a huge celebration of artistry, creativity and individuality."

Longshore continued: "Fashion is really about me being able to put something on and go out there and magnify my inner self. So I wanted to have very optimistic words on the wall: ‘You do not look fat. You are gorgeous. The world is ready for you.’ I wanted people, waiting to go in to the shows, to have a blast of color and beauty and optimism."

On Saturday, Sept. 7, Longshore took to the runway at the Christian Siriano fashion show, where she freestyle-painted details onto a series of 72" x 60" portraits she had prepped as runway props of eight of Siriano’s muses including Janelle Monáe, Lady Gaga, Laverne Cox, Frida Kahlo, Kate Moss and Audrey Hepburn wearing pieces from the current collection. "I really just wanted the clothes to be whimsical and powerful and emotional like [Ashley’s] work, but sort of playful and fun and not taking themselves too seriously," Siriano told THR.

"This isn’t about being skinny," said Longshore. "It isn’t just about clothes. He is an amazing artist and he’s creating his own Christian world. I’ve got Ashley world and these campaigns have come together and it’s a celebration of creativity. ...This is what we need in America right now. I mean, the news is depressing. We need inspiration. We need color. We need clothes. We need music. We need poems. People absorb themselves in the arts when shit goes to hell in a handbasket, you know?"

On size-inclusivity, Longshore said: "We're all unique and perfect and what makes us great is that we are not the same color and the same shape. We use fashion to put ourselves out there in the world and it makes us feel good, damn it, and that's the energy that I wanted to harness. I'm not just the artist or an eternal optimist. I'm a fucking business person and you know what? I'm [also] a fucking consumer. I've got money. I'm ready to buy clothes. Make my fucking size, damn it! I want to spend my money with you. Fashion is a huge billion-dollar industry and I think it's impossible for them to continue to ignore that there's a lot of women out there with a lot of cash who are dying to have more options."

Talking to THR during her pre-fashion show backstage prep, she said, "You know what makes me special is that I'm not a size two and that I'm not six feet tall. I'm sitting here getting my makeup done right now and my nipples are touching my gut. And you know what? That's a gift, damn it. I just want to celebrate individuality. Even if you're a size 24, you're not fat. You're wonderful. And you need to own it. Confidence is the most amazing thing you could ever have on at fashion week. The rest of it is really just extraneous."

On Tuesday, Sept 10, Longshore closed Basso’s show with a catwalk romp in a custom couture organza cape that she painted, along with trousers made by Basso. "I actually hand-painted 15 yards of fabric and he made me this beautiful cape that's so Elizabeth Taylor. Dennis is so classy. He’s about making that uptown lady look gorgeous and glamorous. I was so honored that he wanted me to walk out with him. You know, this is crazy! The American dream is alive. If you put yourself out there and work hard and believe in yourself, anything can fucking happen. I'm just so excited to be here. It’s pretty incredible!"

Basso told THR: "My collection was inspired with a woman in mind who is creative, independent, fearless and versatile. As I was designing the collection, [philanthropist] Jayne Wrightsman’s elegance and the creative style of modern artist, Ashley Longshore, came to mind. Ashley is the perfect representation of a modern woman and brought an unparalleled energy into the show!"

Next up for Longshore is the Rizzoli coffee table book, Ashley Longshore: I Do Not Cook, I Do Not Clean, I Do Not Fly Commercial that rolls out on October 22 and, in early December, the launch of new handbags and the first Ashley Longshore Tote. Talk about wearable art!