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The Austrian eyewear company Silhouette is returning to the spotlight with a campaign entitled “A Vision of the Futura.” Known for its oversized frames—famously worn by style icons and musicians like Elton John and John Lennon—the label garnered fame in the 1970s with a cult-favorite called Futura. Eye-catching in its shape and size, the glasses became rare antique items.
Yesterday, however, they re-launched at The Webster with a contemporary take on the iconic model in four colors. To celebrate, the brand partnered with New Orleans-based artist Ashley Longshore to create two portraits of influential women wearing the vintage and current versions—Coco Rocha and Laverne Cox. Longshore’s paintings will be auctioned off on Charitybuzz for the non-profit Direct Relief, which aims to get protective gear and resources to frontline medical workers.
Whitewall spoke with Longshore to hear about this collaborative launch, what she’s hoping for the future of art, and what she’s loving about fashion today.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about your collaboration with Silhouette on the re-launch of their Futura sunglasses.
ASHLEY LONGSHORE: My collaboration with Silhouette: So, it was so funny. When Silhouette approached me… I already have some of their famous vintage yellow frames and I had painted them on a self-portrait, and it’s actually hanging in my café at Bergdorf Goodman. So, I was already familiar with the brand and a huge fan.
WW: How would you describe the women you painted for this series with Silhouette?
AL: I think they are absolutely amazing examples of modern women who are beautiful, talented, and incredible.
WW: Tell us a bit about your artist-in-residence program with Bergdorf Goodman.
AL: I was the first female artist to have a solo exhibition at Bergdorf Goodman. I had every window down Fifth Avenue, and that was a huge success. Linda Fargo asked me if I wanted to have my own café, and I was like, “Oh my goodness! This is so exciting.” I curated a café on the beauty level that was actually up for two years. What a dream. What are the odds?
It’s absolutely incredible. The global audience at Bergdorf Goodman, and the fact that it is the pinnacle of luxury shopping in the United States… I mean! Is there a better address? No, there is not.
WW: Silhouette’s campaign is titled “A Vision of the Futura.” What’s your vision of the future?
AL: My vision of the future is being able to have power enough in the art world to make sure that the diversity between women and artists that come from under-represented communities have the chance to share their life experience with a global audience.
I want there to be a platform where more artists can express themselves and also learn how to be entrepreneurs—learn who their audience is; learn how to self-represent.
WW: Tell us a bit about your personal style.
AL: I’m turning into a cartoon. I am just getting more and more ridiculous, and I’m more and more comfortable in my skin. I am happiest when I am covered in accessories and some outrageous cape. I’ve got diamonds on my teeth. I’ve never felt more about me than I do in this very moment.
You know, before I had a lot of extra capital to spend on fashion, the first thing I would always buy was sunglasses, because the right pair of sunglasses can change your whole look. Not only that, but they’re necessary because it’s important to protect your eyes.
I love Silhouette. I love their brand. I love that they’re made in Austria. I love the quality. These Futura lenses are like not even having anything on your nose. They’re so light!
WW: Fashion today is embraced in a new way—blurring the lines and boundaries between genders, ages, and more. What’s your reaction to how fashion is changing?
AL: What I love about fashion and everything we’re seeing now—like women wearing clothes that were traditionally for men and men wearing clothes that were for women—is that people are feeling more and more comfortable being their authentic selves. Society is craving for people who are unique and authentic. It’s always exciting and shocking to see someone doing different.
A human being should be able to wear what they want. Fashion is the ultimate expression of how we feel on the inside to the outside world. And that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a million dollars on an outfit, it’s just about style. And style can mean wearing whatever you want.
WW: You’ve been busy the past few months, painting during COVID-19 to raise money for organizations you believe in like Second Harvest (Feeding American). What are you looking forward to doing once isolation due to COVID-19 is completely over?
AL: I want to have the biggest dinner party. I want somebody to bring me a martini. I want to get on an airplane. I’ve already made a list! I’m going to India, the Maldives, Australia, New Zealand. I want to go to Thailand. I can’t wait to go back to London. I’ve got lots of work I need to do in Austria and London, so I just can’t wait to get on a plane and travel.