Cynthia Ashby grew up in southern California canyon land surrounded by open fields and rocky mountains. She left this natural environment for Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There, she was inspired by the passage of time seen in the changing architecture styles and in the colors seen across the urban landscape—the patinas of exposed and aging metals and other materials.
Her study of sculpture and fiber arts and the practice of conveying ideas through objects become evident in her innovative construction, attention to materials, respect for craft, and in that undefinable sense of story seen in her clothing.
Equally inspired by the shifting color palettes found in nature and in urban decay and renewal, Cynthia Ashby design embodies the interplay between softness and structure. Her sense-driven fabric choices consider the weight and texture of fabric on the body. The modernity of her use of line and construction suggest shape-making techniques used in sculpture and architecture.
The garments are made from linen, silk, wool, and cotton. Creating designs for the future using materials that have been used for millennia gives a timeless quality to the clothing that makes it adaptable to the personal expression of the wearer. The collections are garment dyed, creating unique, rich tones that fade into patina much like metal sculpture. Seasonal color palettes can be combined from past and future collections, giving the wearer room to create their individual look.
Ashby splits her time between her Chicago studio and her semi rural home in Wisconsin.