In celebration of Tucson Fashion Week, we’ve been profiling some home-grown fashion designers. Our fashion crush this month: Ashley Bowman of Bowman & Hock. By Joan Calcagno. Cover photo by Ali Megan Photography.
3S: Why Bowman & Hock?
Ashley: “The business had a different name when I established it in 2006. Then my mom, Charlene Hock, joined me a couple years later. As we grew as a team, that name didn’t reflect the partnership, which is a big part of who we are and of our story. And it gave us an opportunity for a strong logo: a woman archer with hawk wings.”
Ashley: “We create ‘fashion jewelry’. That means a place between fine jewelry – which uses diamonds and gold – and lower-end costume jewelry. We design with semi-precious stones like tourmaline, labradorite, fine quartz and fresh-water pearls. And we use feathers, leather, chains – nothing is off-limits.
“We’re known for large, statement pieces. I drill the stones and we use many techniques – wire wrapping, metal work, stringing, pearling – so each piece is unique. That’s the look in our signature collection. And we have a ‘Day of Dead’ collection, which incorporates skulls and other thematic elements.
“It is really jewelry as art. Not so much an accessory, rather each piece stands on its own.”
3S: What will you be showcasing at TFW?
Ashley: “We’ll have models in simple dress, each wearing a statement necklace and an enormous, dramatic feather-based headdress. Each look is based on one of the twelve signs of the zodiac.
“To test out designs for the headdresses, my mom created a line of ‘Day of the Dead’ hats. We’re not branching off into hats as an on-going thing. These are just for this time of year – an opportunity to take a little bit of that headdress to something more wearable.”
3S: When did you start playing around with jewelry design?
Ashley: “My mom gave me a bead kit when I was a little girl. Then I started making jewelry for friends and wearing what I made. When I was 20 and away at college, I was in a boutique one day and the owner loved the piece I had on. She offered to sell my jewelry in the shop. That went well and I realized I could be making money doing this.
“When I moved to back home to Arizona, I started doing trunk shows, which were successful. Then I joined design talents with my mom, who is an amazing seamstress and costume designer. That dynamic is the basis for our success. We really are a team.”
3S:Who or what was your first fashion crush?
Ashley: “I’ve always loved Madonna. I’m a professional ballet dancer and I’ve always loved her work. I thought she was so cool. And her fashion sense is totally up my alley – whether it was what she wore at the Grammies, on stage, everywhere. Some of it was a little androgynous, and that really appeals to me. My mom on the other hand was totally into couture. My great-grandmother went to Parson’s [School of Design] in the 30s, so, with my mom, there is a long line of dressing elegantly.”
3S: Where do you find your own accessories?
Ashley: “Jewelry is not like clothing – wearing jewelry is a choice. It should be special and meaningful. So I wear our designs in the right circumstances, but I don’t wear [jewelry] accessories on a day-to-day basis.
“I like to design meaningful pieces and see them on others. It’s hard for me to wear something simple. I’d rather not wear any accessories at all. I just can’t get something off the rack.”
3S: What do you see in the future for Bowman & Hock?
Ashley: “We want to get our line into high-end stores like Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, and privately owned boutiques. I wore some of our pieces when I was on vacation in Europe and the Europeans loved them. It made me realize that we have a place in the fashion world. We just have to keep going.”
3S: What designers influence you?
Ashley: “I love Dolce and Gabbana. When their spring line came out, our aesthetic was so similar our regular customers thought we had imitated it. To which I said No, they copied us!’. Oscar de la Renta has been an influence. And I love the photography of Eugenio Recuenco. The photographs are theatrical, bizarre, and theme-based – a lot like our work.”
* You can find Bowman & Hock on Etsy. Bowman & Hock designs will be featured in the Saturday evening Runway Wrap-up and Fashion Presentation at Tucson Fashion Week. Also visit their Day of the Dead Trunk Show, Sunday October 13th, 12-6pm at their downtown studio, 19 E. Toole Avenue, 85701.
* 3 Story Magazine is a proud sponsor of Tucson Fashion Week, which runs October 17th to 19th, 2013. For tickets and info visit www.tucsonfashionweek.com