With a killer sense of style, one seriously addictive fashion blog and an envy-inducing jean collection, it’s no wonder Revenge and Salem starlet Ashley Madekwe has been snapped up as a ‘denim icon’ by luxe designer shopping outlet McArthur Glen. Just how good does she look in the blue stuff for their cool new campaign? We caught up with the high street loving stylista to talk all things fashion, love and of course, denim…
L: Hey Ashley! How does it feel to work with McArthur Glen and be a ‘denim icon’?
A: I was really excited by the idea because I’m a denim enthusiast and who doesn’t love a bargain? I didn’t know how big McArthur Glen is in Europe and I went to their Milan outlet recently and it was BEAUTIFUL. You know when you think of discount shopping, you think of rummaging through a bargain basement? It’s not like that at all, it’s everything you could ever want, beautifully laid out at cut-price. When I think of icons, I think of people like Kate Moss so to be put under the umbrella of icon is very flattering.
L: Is denim is a vital part of your wardrobe?
A: I wear denim all the time. Day-to-day, casual with jeans and a t-shirt, then for evenings, I dress it up. I love wearing boyfriend jeans with a heel or skinny jeans, leather jacket and a red lip to elevate it. Denim is so versatile.
L: Do you have any denim pieces that you rely on time and time again?
A: My two favourite pair of jeans are high-waisted skinny pair from Citizens of Humanity, and Topshop jeans are great. I also love a boyfriend jean that I have. I don’t know where they’re from but they’re really ripped and destroyed! And I love Topshop, but for a pair of skinny jeans, I don’t think you can beat Levis. I have high-waisted shorts from them that are vintage jeans cut up. I wear them a lot in LA.
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L: Describe your style in three words?
A: Oh god, erm…committed, feminine and edgy.
L: You’re originally from London. Which shops do you miss when you’re in the states?
A: I miss the high street in general because in LA especially we don’t really have a shopping district as everything’s in a shopping mall. I miss Topshop – we do have it in Los Angeles but it’s not the same as the big one in Oxford Circus!
L: We love your blog Ring My Bell. Would you say your blog is just as important as other elements of your career?
A: Acting is my first love, my true passion and my fashion blog is a hobby to me – and that’s not to downplay it at all, it’s just that acting is what I try to do, that’s my real job. And any thing that comes extra because of my fashion blog is a treat. I don’t see my blog as my career. I know so many bloggers who do it so much better than I do so I’m just grateful for the experience!
L: Do you think it’s important that bloggers are given a voice in the fashion industry?
A: Everyone should have a voice. Fashion should be fun. I don’t like to over think it, over intellectualise it. I never see myself as a journalist and there really is a difference between personal style and fashion journalism. I don’t go to personal style blogs to go see the fashion runway reports, I’ll go to the major fashion sites to find those. I go on blogs to see what other real life girls are wearing and to look at street style for inspiration.
L: What’s your favourite blog?
A: One is a friend of mine I met in Los Angeles called Jules. (sincerlyjules.com) She captures her life and her energy so well in her blog. It’s a really good representation of who she is.
L: Back to fashion, would you ever want to design your own line or collaborate with someone on a collection?
A: I think I’d love to, I have real respect for designers so I wouldn’t want to say I could be one, but I would love to collaborate with somebody or maybe create great pieces for a brand that I love. Maybe eventually work towards design, but people go to school to train how to design clothes so you have to respect it.
L: Which key pieces would you say that every woman should own?
A: For me, the ultimate style investment worth spending good money on is a leather jacket. A good one will last you years. I splashed out on a Balenciaga one and I wear it all day, every day. I dress it up, dress it down. At the time, I was sick when I got home because it was so expensive. But now, if I buy a cheap jacket then I end up buying another one the next season, and the season after that. Investing in an expensive one you don’t need another leather jacket, I’ll never need one again it’s my one for life.
L: You’re a regular on the red carpet and fashion week FROW’s, but have you ever had any embarrassing moments where you thought, “why did I wear that?”
A: Clothes wise, not really! And not because I think I always get it right but because I always enjoy the piece when I wear it and then think, “whatever”. In Milan, I kept forgetting to take my invitation everywhere and that was embarrassing because nobody know who I was and we had to keeping calling the PR’s to come and get me in!
L: What’s your ultimate style tip?
A: Try everything on! I always get a rack whenever I’m shooting. When I was shooting Revenge, the costume designer was like “try it on”. And so many times, things look so much better on than off. The eyes lie!
L: Have you discovered any new brands / high street labels you love?
A: My friend Kevin Morosky did a little capsule collection with Oh My Love and that’s how I found out about that label, and now I love it. Aussie labels Cameo and Style Stalker are favourites of mine too.
L: You’ve been married to fellow actor Iddo Goldberg since 2012. What would you say is the secret to a happy marriage?
A: It’s just remembering you’re in love with the person that really helps. I think people forget that sometimes when real life and routine gets in the way. Loving and respecting each other. No relationship is perfect, no one is perfect.
L: If you could go back and tell your teenage self anything about love and life what would you say?
A: I think maybe don’t take it all so seriously. All the little things, the obsessing over everything, it doesn’t matter – you’re not going to care when you’re 25.
L: What would be your perfect date night outfit?
A: I’m incredibly boring! I wear jeans. I take my leather jacket, my heels and my vintage Lenny Kravitz t shirt and roll up the sleeves. LA’s casual, so I can get away with that!
L: What’s behind the @smashleybell Instagram handle?
A: Well, the blog is called Ring My Bell because of the disco track ‘Ring my Bell’ of the same name. My dad loves that song, and I remember us always dancing to it when I was a little girl. Also, when it came to setting up my social media, somebody also had Ashley Madekwe on their Twitter and I couldn’t have ring my bell either as someone had that too! I was like, ‘why would you want to be Ashley Madekwe? Its me!’ So you know – Ashley/smashley – it was just a good amalgamation of it all! Poppy Delevingneloves to introduce people by their instagram handle – at Milan Fashion Week she was kept taking me over to people saying, “This is Smashley Bell” and everyone was like “Oh, ok.” And she was like, “Well, it’s much better than your real name!”.
L: Which celebrities style do you admire?
A: In terms of style, I like a woman that pushes boundaries a bit – Tilda Swinton always looks so fashion-forward and I love that. I also admire the women who can do sexy because I can’t; it’s not really my jam. I couldn’t do a J.Lo moment. I always admire the things I can’t be. And I also like nonchalant women; women that just look like they don’t care but still get it right like Kate Moss.
L: What do you miss most about the UK?
A: Jaffa cakes!
L: You’ve got an amazing figure. What do you to do to stay in shape?
A: I try to reasonably stay in shape. I say reasonably because I love jaffa cakes! I guess I try to make sensible choices but not to be boring about it. If I go to dinner with friends then I’m not going to order salad, I’ve gone out to dinner so I’ll enjoy myself. But at home, I’ll be boring and eat grilled fish because I know it’s good for me. I do pilates and I have a trainer. Not because I feel like I need to but literally because if I didn’t have someone telling me to do it, I wouldn’t do it.
L: What’s your favourite comfort food?
A: I love salty things, I have a salt addiction. When I’m in LA, I’m obsessed with Cheetos and I add salt to them, which is so bad for you! But I always pour a bowl of Cheetos and add salt and sit in front of the telly.
L: Talk us through your beauty regime…
A: I double cleanse, I use an oil-based cleanser that gets rid of all of the make up without drying out your skin and then I use a mild facial cleanser. What I use changes all the time. And then I moisturize – I use boots number 7 serum for moisturising and I’m using a REN moisturiser as well. So I guess I double moisturise too!
L: Which beauty products do you love?
A: I’ve been using No.7 for years. I still use Olay, I love the smell. My mum used it when I was little. My favourite mascara is Maybelline or Rimmel and I mix together Burberry military red with MAC Ruby Woo for my red lip.
L: What’s next for you?
A: I go back to shoot the second season in Salem in January, which felt like a really long way away but I’ve just realized it’s coming around quickly!
‘Ashley Madekwe is one of the faces of McArthur Glen’s New Denim Icons campaign’
By Gemma Gow