Designer Dossier: Ann Mashburn
The designer and former fashion editor talks inspiration, packing, and birdseed.
Welcome to Designer Dossier! This is a new recurring vertical for the newsletter. We’re probing the inspiration files of some of our readers’ favorite designers across all disciplines (but mostly fashion).
I’m always studying what other women are wearing, especially when I travel. It’s so interesting the way micro-trends develop within certain cities and groups of women. Ann and her husband Sid Mashburn have really become synonymous with a polished-sans-pretense vibe that’s revered among a certain set. They began in Atlanta, but now have shops all over; in Brentwood Country Mart, Madison Avenue, Georgetown… the list goes on.
I met the Mashburns in Atlanta over ten years ago and have had the pleasure of getting to know their family in that time. I was lucky enough to introduce their eldest daughter Elizabeth (who is the creative mind behind all of the company’s groovy branding) to my buddy Sean at a party one night, and now they’re married!
Sid’s notoriously gregarious personality and flawless taste in records made it feel natural to anchor his shop with near-limitless hospitality, and that feeling is a thru-line carried out across Ann’s colorful shop (and now, blog!), as well.
As she says on her website, “It was intended as a small collection of nearly-perfect things, curated from a fashion editor’s point of view… the feminine version of what Sid was doing. Ann started her career on the editorial side of fashion at Conde Nast. She served as an assistant to famed Vogue fashion editor and stylist Polly Mellen, which meant lots of running around and schlepping samples, but also working on photo shoots with some of the greats: Richard Avedon and Irving Penn on one side of the camera, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford on the other (to name a few). She left Vogue to serve as Glamour's fashion editor, and then as a stylist at J.Crew a few years later.
Ann took a break from the world of tearsheets and photo shoots to raise her daughters, but jumped back in when she and Sid moved to Atlanta to open the shop in 2007. Sid was also in the fashion industry, working as a designer (J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Lands’ End.) Since meeting in their early 20s, they’d known that whether it was making mix tapes or throwing parties, what they really loved wasn’t just creating things, but sharing them with others. They may not have known it at the time, but they spent the first 20-something years together laying the creative groundwork for a brand of their own.”
So what’s informing the taste of the tastemaker?
What album or song is captivating you lately? “Palestrina” by Giovanni Pierluigi de Palestrina… a little arch but true. Sorry.
What’s the last piece of art or decor that you bought for your home, or a piece you're eyeing? a Yankee Flipper birdfeeder. Maybe a stretch, but it feels like outdoor décor… garden décor. It has this little mechanism that kicks squirrels off. It’s like Grand Central Station out there with SO many birds — I am going through a bag of birdseed every week. I hung it on a tree outside of our sunroom and it has given me a reason to hang out in there… just watching the birds. I guess I am really in my 60s.
Have you seen any inspiring exhibits lately? Any great live shows? Any great TV or movies? My daughter Harriet and I woke up early together to watch the coronation…. does that count as a live show
Looking ahead, what's on your travel docket for the rest of 2023? What are you packing? I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and live my life one week at a time – so I almost skipped this question. But actually, I AM going to Newport for a wedding in July — where I have never been! I am packing a white fitted T-shirt and a silk ball skirt from my line, plus sandals with a little heel. And a bathing suit with a pareo… not sure I will need anything else.
What's in your cart right now? Birdseed!!
What's the last beauty product you bought that actually worked? Revitabrow eyebrow serum. You do have to be truly consistent about it and apply it every night… and then you do have to keep using it or else they’ll go back to the way they were… so it is a bit of a trap in that way… but my eyebrows are as thick as they were in my 20’s.
How do your daughters influence your style? There are almost too many of them to answer this! They all have such distinct personalities and different senses of style – but it is inspiring to see the way they wear my hand-me-downs in such different ways. There are so many ways to get dressed. And even if I sort of have my own style baked at this point in my life, that is a super cool thing to observe.
How did your Mom influence your style? My mom was SUPER practical but always looked great. She played golf only sparingly but I remember her most in little golf-style short skirts and sleeveless tops… slim cut Capri pants… polo sweaters… the kinds of things that you could move around in. She did not spend a ton of time thinking about what to wear or how she looked. It is great to take joy in getting dressed and styling yourself, but that was so not her thing, and I really admired her practicality and lack of vanity.
What's the last thing you read that you really loved? I recently re-read These Precious Days – spurred by coming across this essay again – she is just the best.
What do you collect? Why? Lately, I have been super into little silver bowls with other people’s monograms or anniversaries… I am big on the Saturday morning tag sale circuit, but there are tons at Scott’s [Antique Market in Atlanta] as well. I put potato chips and edamame and other little appetizers in them before dinner. My newest one says Bob & Jenny, 1972.
Drop a beauty secret. Tan Luxe tan drops will give you just the right amount of color on your face. I mix 1-2 drops in with 5 drops of Vintners Daughter oil in the morning and that is the extent of my skincare routine. Works for me.
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