Passing Notes With AshantiSaturday, January 17, 2015
THE dawn of the new year witnessed the quiet touchdown of Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ashanti. The recording star was the special guest for Marketplace hotspot Fiction Fantasy which celebrated the arrival of 2015 with a 'Finale: Midnight In Toyko' party. In between her scheduled capital city engagements the spunky, street-smart artiste sat down with Under The Dryer writer Curt Cawley to gab about all things hair, beauty, fashion and beyond -- plus, we learned from the hitmaker why your camera phone may just be your single, most important critic.
UNDER THE DRYER (UTD): What's your favourite spot for jewellery?
ASHANTI: It depends. For funky jewellery, LARUICCI. And for fine and red-carpet jewellery, Lorraine Schwartz. I love Lorraine. She's the best in the industry.
UTD: Share with us the most important lesson you've learned about personal image.
ASHANTI: You have to take pictures of yourself with a flash before you head out. Some things look amazing in person and to the naked eye but on camera it'll look crazy.
UTD: Is that why we see so many women photographed with that ghostly white make-up mask?
ASHANTI: Absolutely! That concealer under there, you have to examine with a flash on. It will look beautiful in person and when you look in the mirror, but when faced with paparazzi on the red carpet it's a different story. Lighting is everything. Lighting will make or break you (laughs)!
UTD: Ahead of a photo- or videoshoot, what's your personal regimen?
ASHANTI: I try to fast before. No carbs. Don't eat late. No salt.
UTD: Do you ever do a full-on master cleanse or green juice?
ASHANTI: I definitely
UTD: Ashanti, what are your essential travel items?
ASHANTI: I need my make-up bag, my flats, and sweats. Definitely, a scarf -- on the plane you never know what's going to happen! And I'm talking long scarves that you can turn into a makeshift blanket.
UTD: What are your favourite clothing retail shops?
ASHANTI: I'm into multi-brand boutiques such as Mixology, Jolie Fleur, Intermix, Scoop and Singer 22. They're cool because you can mix and match. You can find something for 20 bucks (US$20) and at the same time something for US$2,500. You know what I mean? And therefore it becomes about how you 'swag' it. How you put the elements together, so that it doesn't look forced.
UTD: How would you describe your personal style?
ASHANTI: Classy. Sassy. Sexy. Not trashy (laughs)!
UTD: Which designer label, without fail, truly understands your look?
ASHANTI: Whoa, that's tough! Any designer who understands that I have little waist, good-sized legs, and a behind and can accentuate those areas and ensure that it's custom for me.
UTD: What has been your favourite red-carpet fashion look of yourself recently?
ASHANTI: I did one in Las Vegas that was cool, in Michael Costello. He's my 'homie'.
UTD: What's your favourite home or room fragance at the moment?
ASHANTI: You know what? There's this new candle that I got put on to, I think it's a Glade candle. This one smells like a Jolly Rancher. It's red on top and orange at the bottom. Oh my gosh, it smells so amazing! Someone got them for me in Canada and I took all of them out of the dressing room (laughs)!
UTD: What's your favourite hotel to stay at and why?
ASHANTI: That always changes. I stay in hotels way too much. I stay at what's reputable, if I'm not familiar. But at the moment, the Wynn Las Vegas is my favourite.
UTD: What do you find striking about Caribbean beauty?
ASHANTI: I like -- and I don't know if this is even a word -- the 'exoticness' and not looking like everyone else. I also love the range of naturally sun-kissed skin colour.
UTD: What's your favourite perfume?
ASHANTI: J'adore by Christian Dior.
UTD: What fashion trend are you looking to rotate for 2015?
ASHANTI: I'm really big on pairing really cool stockings with long-sleeved tunics. My stylist, she got me about 10 pairs of hosiery for Christmas. They are so dope. I can't wait to wear them.
UTD: Where's your favourite spa?
ASHANTI: I would say, the spas at the Amanresorts properties in Bali, Indonesia. They are ridiculous!
UTD: Are you a bath or shower person?
ASHANTI: I'm on the go too much. Shower. If I had time, then bath. Wait, have you ever done a bath and shower, simultaneously? It's the best ever! You've gotta try it. Fill it up with bubbles...I'm telling you! And if you have somebody in there with you... Amazing (laughs)!
UTD: How do you adjust the Ashanti look when you're travelling especially to warmer climes?
ASHANTI: Flats. Sandals, definitely. Sometimes I like to dress down -- baggy denim shorts, wifebeater, hat, and sunglasses.
UTD: What's included in your rider?
ASHANTI: Honestly, I don't need a lot, but I find that I write quicker, and maybe even deeper, when I'm sitting with my feet up. I don't know what it is, if it's subconscious. So inevitably, a second chair appears for me to use as an impromptu ottoman. I've noticed this a lot recently while going through my recording studio pictures on my Instagram account.
UTD: When do you feel your most beautiful?
ASHANTI: I would say... when I'm just hanging; no make-up; ponytail and sweats. When you can still kill without all that make-up on... yeah.
UTD: What's your go-to make-up look when you have to do it yourself?
ASHANTI: As natural as possible.
UTD: And, if you have to dial it up just a tad?
ASHANTI: It's important to make the eyes pop! You can do a little smokey or blacken the lid. Using bronzer is a must. Contouring is also very important. If you put on just regular foundation and take a picture you'll notice that all your angles are flat and you look crazy. You'll look beautiful in person but on the camera, it won't capture your essence.
UTD: What are your favourite cosmetic brands?
ASHANTI: I'm versatile. I love MAC cosmetics but now with filming, they have this new high-definiton (HD) make-up that's really cool. I like Bobbi Brown and Make Up For Ever and NARS. Tom Ford and Chanel have some cute lipglosses. Even the drugstore brands, sometimes.
UTD: What has to be in your handbag at all times?
ASHANTI: Hand sanitiser, lotion, lipgloss, a brush, obviously my smartphone, and I try to carry two chargers.
UTD: With regard to your outlook on beauty, what has your mom (and manager) Tina passed on to you?
ASHANTI: You know what's crazy? My mom doesn't even wear a lot of make-up. She doesn't need it and when she does choose to, she can do all that with just one finger. She always instilled in me the value of being and looking natural and being confident in who I am.
UTD: What are your red-carpet considerations?
ASHANTI: It's so important to 'own' whatever you're in -- so, if it's something short and tight, you better own it. If it's long and loose, own it. That's equally as important as what the garment is. If you're feeling glamorous, you might want a long ball gown . If you're feeling feisty, hot and spicy -- something short and, you know, tight.
UTD: Where do you get your nails done?
ASHANTI: I have one girl, Kim, in Los Angeles. And Lisa Logan in New York City is cool, she travels for her clients. The local lady at the Asian spot, named Grace. She is five minutes from my house (laughs)!
UTD: How do you take care of your hair? What are your favourite haircare products?
ASHANTI: I'm actually not the best at taking care of it.
UTD: You're not a hair girl?
ASHANTI: I should be but I'm not. I really should take better care of my hair. As for products, I love the Aveda line.There's also a product called After Party by BED HEAD Smoothing Cream. It's amazing, if you want your tresses to look moist without being oily. And of course, Kim Kimble's products!
UTD: Whose beauty do you admire in Hollywood and the music industry?
ASHANTI: Halle Berry and JLo are timeless, effortless beauties.
UTD: So it's bedtime, what's your beauty routine at this stage of your day?
ASHANTI: Definitely have to wash my face, tone and then moisturise with my creams. And apply body lotion. There's Epicuren Extra Fine Citrus Facial Scrub, it's amazing; it really, really is! They need to cut me a cheque for this plug (laughs)!
UTD: Who are your favourite hairstylists?
ASHANTI: I've worked with some of the top stylists in the industry. I love Kim Kimble, Oscar James, and -- one of my fan-fans who used to come to my shows and hit me on Twitter -- Eduardo Ponce. I didn't even set it up and he (Eduardo) did my hair for the Grammys in 2013 -- crazy!
UTD: Favourite make-up artist?
UTD: What's your favourite physical feature on your own body?
ASHANTI: Between my eyes and my thighs (laughs)!
UTD: And which feature do you struggle with?
ASHANTI: Oh, my arms!
UTD: What would be your ideal change for them?
ASHANTI: To them that up (laughs).
UTD: Are you an active person?
ASHANTI: I'm, like, a hard body in the gym.
UTD: So you do resistance training, then.
ASHANTI: Yes. Weightlifting, boxing, jump rope, crunches. All of that!
UTD: Are you self-motivated or do you use/need a trainer?
ASHANTI: Oh, man, I need a trainer. It's not gonna happen without a trainer.
UTD: So you're 80 years old, what would Ashanti be rocking?
ASHANTI: First of all, my cane is gonna be dipped in Swarovski crystals! I'm still gonna have on Chanel flats. I'll need to have a nice big bag. I don't know what's gonna be hot when I'm 80. Hopefully, I'll have grandkids and I'll probably be able to fit everything they'll need inside -- the baby bottle, the car seat, diapers, everything (laughs).
UTD: Consider this: Fashion's value is beyond the price tag.
ASHANTI: That's one thing about fashion, when you have timeless pieces -- you may pay US$20,000 for something, but when you can pull it out your closet, 10 years later, and the piece still shuts it down? That's amazing!
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