Food and Fashion: Lunch with Ashley Burghardt

ash1by Jayne Chobot

There are actually people who laugh when fashion and food are mentioned together. Even I was once told that I can’t be known for both. Pshaw, as a Southerner once taught me to say. I have learned over the years that people who are passionate and talented in one creative area are generally passionate and talented in others, even if it’s not widely known. To succeed as an artist of any kind, an inner fire must be working that can’t help but spark other areas of brilliance and desire. I was delighted to learn last month that this theory is undoubtedly true of Dallas’s purse darling Ashley Burghardt, of Ashard Richley. Ashley and I met for a lovely brunch at West Village’s Moroccan restaurant Baboush (how thrilled was I when she did not request Tex Mex?) and I caught a glimmer of the depths of this woman’s intrigue.      

I was first made aware of one of D Magazine’s Most Beautiful Women in Dallas, class of 2010, while at an art gallery opening last summer. I was still considered a new girl and spent much of my time just trying to match names with faces while sipping cocktails in the Texas summer heat. A cab pulled up outside, and a handful of beautiful women poured out and ran up to the chain-link fence, each holding up funky and chic amalgamation of clutch and iPad holder. Color me intrigued. A few months later, while splitting appetizers with girlfriends at the 31 Lounge in Highland Park Village, those bags appeared again. I simply had to ask, and got the lowdown on the Dallas-based designer who was helping to keep Dallas on the map with her designs and television appearances on MTV’s Made and Lifetime’s 14 Hour Catwalk, which she won.

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Like many, Burghardt had intended to settle in New York City, where she finds the most style inspiration. But also like many, when the market crashed she knew it was only a matter of time before it would affect her. A head designer position was offered to her in Dallas, where she could make more while having a lower cost of living.  Being in Dallas has affected how the edgy and fashion-forward designer designs; tastes in Texas, and The South in general are unsurprisingly different than those in New York and Italy, and every collection has to have a few bags that are more basic for the conservative tastes she finds here. But that’s a small price to pay for the business-friendly environment and support of the Dallas community. Having spent the first two years of her business focused (and successfully) nationally and internationally, she’s excited to spend more time here at home taking advantage of and enjoying that support. Not surprisingly, Ashley was eager to reciprocate and heap praise on her fellow Dallas designers, notably Sharin Askari, Abi Ferrin, Shona Gilbert, Stephanie Curtis, and her mentor Rachel Dauphinée.

But back to our lunch, which was less an interview and more of a dish session between two experience junkies. Of course I asked where she ate when she lived in New York, and I loved her passion for hot pot dining at Grand Sichuan and getting her Tex-Mex fix with infused vodkas at Lobo in Brooklyn. The easy conversation spanned yoga, travel, cooking, food, and more food. Favorite restaurants in Dallas? Currently Oak (agreed), Driftwood, Mr. Shabu Shabu, any Korean BBQ, and of course Victor Tango’s, where she had her first date with the man who would become her husband and business partner in the same year. Her splurge? Weird kitchen gadgets at Sur la Table. Bags or no bags, she just may be my new girl crush.

It is no secret that the cynical New Yorker in me gets hives when there’s too much of the pretty perky young sorority stereotype around. But I have to admit, this chick had me smitten. She’s young, she’s cute as a button, and yes, she is unbelievably perky. But more importantly, she is smart and worldy too, and most impressive is her drive and optimism, and her insistence that you make your own happiness. There’s a playfulness about the young Mrs. Burghardt, proven when she tellsthe story about approaching a woman carrying one of her bags. She asked her where she got it, and listened to the woman tell excitedly tell her her own story, not realizing who she was telling it to.

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If all of this isn’t enough to make you fall in love with Ashley, I’ve got another not-so-secret tidbit: she’s currently incubating a new little Dallasite as we speak, due May 16th. This is about the time we expect the new line from Ashford Richley in stores. How much more Burghardt can Dallas take? I’m willing to bet a whole lot more.

Have your own thrilling conversation with Ashley today Ruthie’s Food Trucks headquarters until 8pm tonight. Talk fashion, food, babies, and buy a bag while you’re at it. You’ll draw the admiration of everyone around you, including me.

Since its inception in 2009 ASHARD RICHLEY has made its way into over 100 stores in the United States, Canada, and Costa Rica. ASHARD RICHLEY bags are made of the finest leathers and lined with supple pigskin. Each bag is versatile and functional. ASHARD RICHLEY bags are made to the highest quality and will last a lifetime. AR by ASHARD RICHLEY bags are made of high quality synthetic leathers and lined with fun vibrant colors. AR bags are affordable and make it easy to keep up with the latest trends.

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Filed under Fashion Sense, Jayne Chobot

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