We caught up recently with Ashlyn Chesney, Style Council Director at MR PORTER. We’re in a private room at Mark’s Club in London’s Mayfair and she’s just finished telling the story of a lunch trip she took to a fish shack in Essex - by helicopter.
“I’m always up for an adventure,” Ashlyn tells us, “my passion is being able to travel. I see it as an essential part of life’s education.”
What is it about travel that’s so important? “Two things. There’s the experience of other communities, and then there’s being able to eat great food. Luckily I travel a lot so I do as much as I can of both.”
Hailing from Maine, she credits the state as being the place that started her obsession. “My mother is always asking me when I’m going to make it back. The goal next year is to make it part of a little road trip with MR PORTER and Style Council. Hopefully we can fit it in!”
Ashlyn manages the Style Council for leading menswear retailer MR PORTER. It began when the site was launched back in 2011, originally as an interesting collection of cross-discipline individuals offering recommendations and style tips, but it’s only recently that the section has had a new lease of life breathed into it, thanks predominantly to Ashlyn who lead the relaunch in October 2016.
“We wanted to take this community of members and amplify them, working together to highlight their favourite places.”
Bars, restaurants and hotels can be searched through the Style Council on MR PORTER, offering visitors a collection of varied spots across the world, and all recommended by a list of select members.
The list is certainly interesting, with figures hailing from a wide variety of backgrounds including music, film, tech & culture; familiar names like Pharrell Williams sit alongside Carl Barat, Scott Schuman & Cary Fukunaga, as well as Basic Rights Creative Director Freddie Cowan.
“We have a variety of taste makers making up our member base, many of whom were friends of the brand before being brought on as members. People like surfboard designer Hayden Cox in Sydney, Kevin Systrom of Instagram and adventurer David De Rothschild, are all contributors to our community. The aim is to engage with our audience by presenting an organic list of authentic tips and recommendations from guys that are part of the MR PORTER family and embody our lifestyle. I think this is what separates Style Council from other travel resources.”
Clockwise from bottom left: Musician Pharrell Williams, DJ Luca Venezia, director Cary Fukunaga, Basic Rights founder and guitarist Freddie Cowan in white heavy weight tee
We ask what it is that makes a member interesting and what Ashlyn looks for when adding to the Style Council community.
“It’s really about passion. As much as I’m passionate about travel, food and people, it’s important to me that our members be passionate about whatever their thing is, that he knows who he is and that he’s keen to work towards bettering his industry and greater community. Naturally each member has his own unique style. That’s obviously important.”
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION (LA): The Nomad Hotel
We’re listening. This is the director of the Style council after all, so we have to ask her thoughts on what makes her members stylish.
“Style is personal. Everyone is going to be different. Our member Luca Venezia who resides in Berlin sports a gold tooth, tattoos and a fair amount of leather. He is a complete contrast to the general manager of this club and fellow member – Darius Namdar – who you’ll most often find in a traditional English cut suit. Regardless of whether someone is huge into streetwear, they’re a total believer in the Gucci movement or if they like to keep it traditional, it’s a person that MR PORTER speaks to and we hopefully have embodied that in each of our members.”
BAR RECOMMENDATION (NYC): The Rose Bar
“To me style is also not just about how one dresses, it’s about how you interact with the world, how you do business and how you carry yourself. It’s about knowing yourself and your impact on your community. All our members embody these traits.”
RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION (LONDON): Kiln
What about her own personal style? “In the context of clothing, I’ve tried to pin it down but often struggle. It’s a bit ‘feminine, but with a touch of the masculinity’. I also think that working in menswear has allowed me to develop a stronger appreciation for the product because of the tailoring and the consideration I’ve found men put into buying clothes. There’s also a technical element that’s discussed more often. Good menswear combines it all together and allows you to be more comfortable while looking good. And I mean that’s the whole point, isn’t it?”
“This item is like a lot of things in my wardrobe. Its super soft and something you can live in. I love that you guys are going out there and finding tactile, friendly fabrics that are not only durable but kind to the skin and kind to the environment, and also isn’t going to tear when you’re living in it day to day. I’m already planning on what I could wear this with tomorrow…”
“This is an item that is so good for its structure but also for its movement, the fabric is durable so you know it won’t let you down. The tapering in the leg and the pull tabs on the side are those little touches that make all the difference. This is what would make them a perfect addition to my wardrobe.”
Ashlyn Chesney is Director of The Style Council for Mr Porter.
RESTAURANT RECOMMENDATION (LONDON): REGENCY CAFE
HOTEL RECOMMENDATION (JAMAICA): THE FLEMING VILLA