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Ohio State alumna to bring color to Fashion Meets Music Festival

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Ashley Wills' designs are influenced by her work as a costume designer with the Ohio Theater. Credit: Courtesy of Ashley Wills

Ashley Wills’ designs are influenced by her work as a costume designer with the Ohio Theater. Credit: Courtesy of Ashley Wills

An Ohio State alumna is set to bring ‘70s vibes to the third annual Fashion Meets Music Festival in the Arena District this weekend.

Ashley Wills, a 2011 OSU graduate, will be showcasing her colorful clothing collection, Moonbow.

“For this collection, color was big, so I started by selecting a full rainbow spectrum of colors and then adding in things like metallics and off tones for more visual interest,” Wills said. “I like to stick with mainly simple silhouettes because I’m a true believer that comfort is king, and instead focus on using interesting materials.”

Wills looks to music and past time periods for inspiration in her fashion collections. For Moonbow, she focused on ‘70s glam-rock, citing examples of David Bowie and Mick Jagger.

“I love how the ‘70s was kind of gender non-specific, how stars like Mick Jagger would just dress really boldly,” she said. “I really admire things like that.”

During her college career, Wills completed a dual degree in fashion and theater. Many of her designs have also been influenced by her time spent working at the Ohio Theatre, where she worked in the costume studio for three years.

“I didn’t even know how to sew until I worked there, so that’s been a really great influence,” Wills said. “I got a really great experience, got to design for a couple of plays in the theater department, and I just loved that job.”

Wills now makes fashion and blogging her full-time career, and stressed the importance of finding a personal space for creativity and inspiration.

“Blogging has been such a gift. It came at a time when I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Wills said. “I would really recommend it to anyone who’s in a situation like that because it really helped me find my style, my voice and find what I wanted to do.”

Her website, freewillsstudio.com, is geared toward those interested in style, decor and do-it-yourself crafts, especially artistic college students on a budget.

“I just love the arts and anything crafty, really, and I’m also very inspired by being on a budget,” Wills said. “I try to do things as inexpensively as possible.”

Horacio Nieto, a designer and fashion producer at FMMF, met Wills three years ago at Highball, an annual Halloween fashion event in the Short North Arts District.

When Nieto got the position at FMMF, he said Wills came to mind. He said he appreciates the story behind Wills’ fashion collections, and is anxious for the audience to see the full collection as well.  

“They’ll be able to see her perspective, her story, her thoughts, her ideas and her take on fashion,” he said.

FMMF is set to take place on Sept. 3 and 4 in the Arena District and will feature four stages with live music acts and designers to celebrate the fashion and music scenes.

HOWL by Ashley Wills will hit the festival’s Polaris Fashion Place Runway Stage at 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 4.

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