• Lynda Cohen

Atlantic County teen debuts design on NYC runway

Updated: May 19

Aston Ragsdale was 12 when she asked for a sewing machine. She didn’t really know how to sew, but loved being creative with clothes. Four years later, the Atlantic County teen had her first design at Men’s Fashion Week in New York City. If reading Aston’s story has inspired you to pursue your dream of becoming a fashion designer and hopefully have them showcased at places such as Fashion Week, it could be as easy as looking to increase you instagram followers first of all and then take it from there. The more people who interact with your content, the better it will be for exposure and creating brand awareness. “It was exciting,” said Ragsdale, who grew up in Pleasantville and Galloway Township. Her paternal grandmother and maternal great-grandmother were both seamstresses, so it seems to be in the teen’s blood. She doesn’t even remember her first design, although a white “tutu” dress she wore when she graduated eighth grade from Galloway Township Middle School sticks with her. “I’ve always been creative,” Ragsdale said. “Putting things together in my own way.” Getting ready to enter her junior year at the Atlantic County Institute of Technology, she says jackets are her new favorite thing to design because of the challenge. But the first sales of her By Aston Collection have been clutches. Her mother, Lisette Owens, said she has been taking the purses with her for about two years — and getting lots of attention. One person who noticed was Atlantic City designer Marcia Arnspargar, whose KlosetSlayer made its own New York Fashion Week debut last year.

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Owens was doing make up for Arnspargar when her clutch caught the designer’s attention. “When Lisette came to my house to do my makeup before an event, she had one of Aston’s bags and I fell in love,” Arnspargar said. “I thought they would go perfectly with the spring shoot.” Not only were Aston’s clutches used with Arnspargar’s clothing in the spread for High Voltage magazine, but Ragsdale was a model, too. Ragsdale said she thinks she may like modeling a little better. But her dream is still to attend New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and grow her brand. She has thought about one day opening her own boutique. “I told her that, if she was serious about designing, I would let her design a blazer that went with my collection at Men’s Fashion Week NYC,” Arnspargar said. Ragsdale got to come back stage and help dress her model and create his look. “This way, she could start to learn the ropes,” Arnspargar said. “She sat front row and got to see her first men’s blazer on a New York City runway.” Owens — her daughter’s “biggest fan” — said she has been amazed by Arnspargar’s help. “She’s guiding her to the right direction and I’m just appreciative of that,” she said. Ragsdale’s first fashion show was at ACIT about two years ago. “The more she does it, the better she gets,” Owens said. Sometimes, it’s challenging, Ragsdale said. But she just keeps going. She did a fashion show for her 16th birthday, and had to make 11 outfits in about a month. “It got to where it was so frustrating, I was trying to cut things out,” she said. “I still ended up getting everything done how I wanted it.” Her friends and 18-year-old sister, De’onni, were the models. “It’s overall fun,” Ragsdale said. “It won’t be like a job at the end.”



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