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Picture of two women smiling, one being BriannaRose in the red top, the other being Ashley Lauren in the black
Picture of two women smiling, one being BriannaRose in the red top, the other being Ashley Lauren in the black
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How Famous Designer Ashley Lauren Increases Confidence and Fashion Representation

If you are in the world of fashion, specifically involving gowns and fun fashion, you are not a stranger to the name Ashley Lauren. For those who do not recognize this name, Ashley Lauren is a top gown designer who also creates jumpsuits and other fun pieces. She is a trailblazer in pageant fashion, founder of National Dress Day, and her brand’s Instagram account has almost one million followers! Her Campus at UCLA was able to meet up with Ashley Lauren at the I Am Pageant Powerhouse Convention and speak with her about her career and topics she is passionate about. 

HC: Can you briefly introduce yourself for our readers who may not be familiar with your work? 

AL: My name is Ashley Lauren. I am a fashion designer, and my home state is Maine. 

HC: How did you get into design and fashion? 

AL: It was always a dream of mine to work in fashion. I love beautiful, rich colors and beautiful embellishments. Pageant dresses were something I never thought I would be doing as a little girl, but I really enjoy working with pageants. I just love the way a dress can make a young woman feel, and give her the boost of confidence and play up her best assets. 

HC: How did you get into pageant designing since it wasn’t something you originally anticipated? 

AL: It just sort of fell into my lap. I worked really, really hard at it, and you know, maybe it was my destiny. 

HC:  What do you want girls to feel when they see/wear your work? 

AL: I want them to feel confident. I want them to feel when they walk into a room wearing an Ashley Lauren dress that they are just their best version of themselves. I think the dress is just there to make them feel more confident and beautiful, it’s not to take away from them, it’s just to enhance them. 

HC: What is your proudest accomplishment in your fashion career? 

AL: Making young women feel confident and beautiful is something that I am proud to be a part of. I’ve had the great opportunity to sponsor pageants like National American Miss, and even this year, I am sponsoring the Miss World Contest for their 70th anniversary. I think being a part of pageants and seeing young women grow, learn more about themselves and succeed makes me feel happy and proud. 

HC: What is your favorite thing you have designed? 

AL: It’s tough because every season I come out with an entirely new collection. Every season there are always my favorites, but I think I love beaded pieces, especially the hand-beaded pieces. This season, it’s all about feathers and bright colors […] I would have to say hot pink feathers is my favorite. 

HC: Where do you get your inspiration from? 

AL: I find inspiration in all things whether it’s from traveling to different countries or maybe it’s just a walk in the local park. […] One of the things that is most inspiring is meeting the young women as they are trying on the dresses. Seeing them in different silhouettes makes me come up with new designs of what would help them look their best self. It gives me more inspiration and more ideas for my next collection. 

HC: I saw on your social media account you founded National Dress Day. Could you tell me more about how this came to be? 

AL: Yes! National Dress Day is celebrated every year on the same date, March 6th. It is a way for women to cherish their dearest dress memories, whether it be their high school prom or an Easter dress, or maybe it’s their pageant dress.

HC: When did you originally have the idea for National Dress Day? 

AL: I started it years back. It was originally just a way to celebrate wearing dresses and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger. When you have big brands like Target and Walmart and celebrities promoting it and tagging it, that’s really cool too. 

HC: How do you keep up with trends or predictions for next season? 

AL: I think it’s always about having new things. It’s also about how the girl feels in the dress. There are so many classic pieces that the girls want season after season after season that they love, but they also look to Ashley Lauren for the hottest and the latest. It’s all about staying ahead of the curb, and we seem to be doing it. 

HC: What was the most surprising thing about the fashion industry to you?

AL: Not very surprising, but the most exciting thing is that it does change. As women, we are always looking for something fresh and new to make us feel confident and beautiful. I think what’s changing a lot is inclusivity. In my collection, I have nude dresses for women of different skin tones. It’s about staying at the forefront and really understanding what the need is in the market and representing women of all different shapes and colors. I think having a collection as big as ours, we are able to do that and it makes me feel proud to offer something for all women.

HC: That actually leads me to another question I have. There has been a lot of conversation in the fashion world about more diversity and representation, especially with models. What do you think about these topics that have been circulating? 

AL: As the owner of a business, I have the option of picking models. For me, it’s about picking models of all different skin tones whether it’s an African American girl or a Latin girl or a European girl. I want girls of all different nationalities and skin tones and body types because that’s who we are. As a business owner and a fashion designer, I know my choices can also help inspire other businesses and brands, as well as make young women feel like they do belong, that they do have a dress that fits them. That’s the most important thing, and I want to be a leader in that. That’s why I sponsor pageants not only like National American Miss, but I also sponsor African American-based pageants or Latin-based pageants because ultimately that’s my brand. Ashley Lauren is about everyone. It’s represented in the dress silhouettes, as we have dresses meant with girls with more curves or taller girls, and that’s really important. It’s a choice I’ve made as a business owner to be inclusive of everyone. 

HC: What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being a fashion designer?

AL: My favorite thing is making girls feel confident. If I play a little bit of a role in boosting their self-esteem or giving them a reason to put on a dress or a jumpsuit and showcase their best self, then I’ve done my part. I travel a lot, so sometimes I get a little bit tired, but I know that I’m making a difference and it goes back to women feeling confident. 

HC: What does fashion mean to you?

AL: Fashion is about expressing your personality, whether you like bright colors or you are someone who likes to wear only black. The dress silhouette or the dress color or the embellishments on the dress can say a lot about your personality. I think it’s a way for young women to show who they truly are, and that’s one of the reasons I have so many different colors and styles and silhouettes on my line, in order to give young girls the opportunity to pick what suits their personality the best. […] In a pageant setting, the dress plays a huge role in showing who you are. 

HC: What would you say to someone looking to get into design or the fashion industry?

AL: Follow your heart. Treat others how you want to be treated. Work, work, work; the work never stops. You have to be really passionate about what you do. I feel very fortunate because I never feel like I am working a single day in my life. While it sometimes feels like I’m working 22 or even 24 hours out of the day, I don’t ever feel like it’s work. Make sure you follow your heart and put in the work to back it up. 

HC: Finally, I always like to end with a fun fact. What is a fun fact about yourself? 

AL: I have a little Maltese, and his name is Poseidon. You can find him on my personal Instagram @ MrsAshleyLauren. I always post little videos about Poseidon.

It was an absolute joy to speak with Ashley Lauren, and we thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to share all her insights with us. We hope that from this interview you remember to stay true to yourself, the importance of representation and of course to celebrate National Dress Day on March 6th. After all, it is one of the best days of the year!

BriannaRose is a UCLA Communications major and Film/TV minor who aspires to break boundaries and stigmas. As an aspiring creative director, she works on student films and photography projects, and has professional experience in both fashion public relations and internal communications for cable. In addition to writing, BriannaRose volunteers at local animal shelters and competes in pageants. She currently represents the city of West Hollywood in the National American Miss system.
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