HER UNIVERSE Interview: THE CLONE WARS Star Ashley Eckstein On The Fashion Show's Return This Friday

Star Wars icon Ashley Eckstein talks to us about the return of the Her Universe Fashion Show this Friday, including why she chose "Community" as a theme and the Ahsoka Tano-inspired costume she'll don...

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Like many events, last year's Her Universe Geek Couture Fashion Show was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with Comic-Con@Home set to remain a virtual event this weekend, the show is back and set to feature some big surprises for viewers and entrants alike. 

As you might expect, Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein (The Clone Wars' Ahsoka Tano) is excited to return to the stage alongside the Her Universe community with themed, couture looks that promise to blow the minds of any fangirl or guy (including an Ahsoka-inspired design she will debut on stage). 

We caught up with Ashley earlier this week to discuss the show - you can find her comments on a possible Star Wars return here - and got her thoughts on the challenges of taking the Her Universe fashion show down a virtual route, the costume she plans to reveal on stage, and why it was so important to based this event around the theme of "Community" after lockdown. 

Make sure to check back here next week for some spoilery comments from Ashley on one big part of the show we can't talk about yet. In the meantime, here's the rest of our chat with the Star Wars icon. 

The Her Universe Fashion Show will stream live on Friday, July 23 at 8/7c.

I know this project is extremely important to you, but after having to cancel last year and making this show virtual, what were some of the biggest challenges of having to change the format in order to work around COVID? 

Well, it definitely was a new show from that standpoint. We had to figure it out as we went, but we were just so grateful to do the show again. The show really happened because of our community. Last year, when we had to miss the show, the designers came together as one. Designers from the past six shows surprised us with what they called a ‘Unity Quilt.’ Each designer made a square inspired by the couture design over the past six years and sewed it together to present to me and the Her Universe team. It was to show how important the fashion show was to them and that gift was literally the most beautiful gift I’ve ever received in my entire life, and receiving a gift like that and seeing how important the show is to our community, we said then and there, ‘We have to find a way to bring our show back in 2021.’ Despite any challenges we came across in terms of having to change the format and change it to virtual, we figured it out as we had such tremendous motivation from our community to bring it back because it was so important to so many people. 

A lot of fans are very excited to see the Ahsoka Tano tribute look you’re planning to debut at the show, so what can you tease about that? 

I’m hesitating because I’m trying to keep the details a bit of a surprise, but what I can say is that the Ahsoka Tano inspired design is very personal to me and also my designer, Andrew McClane, who has designed my looks for the past five shows (this will be his sixth). It’s inspired by Ahsoka’s line, ‘This is a new day. A new beginning.’ That’s a very iconic line for Ahsoka, and not only for me personally but for Andrew, who really connected with that quote. We’ll hear a bit more from Andrew during the show, but I also think it speaks to all of us. Not only does it speak to the show, because we had to pause it last year, but this really is a new beginning for all of us. We’ve found ourselves over the past year and a half sitting at home during the pandemic questioning everything and as we come out, it’s a new beginning for everyone. It’s a very meaningful design for us this year. 

You’ve mentioned the word "Community," and I know that’s the theme of this year’s show, but why was that important to you, especially after this past year with COVID?

For me, this is the most important thing. From day one, when I founded Her Universe, I had a very strict rule that Her Universe would always be two parts. Her Universe is a fashion and lifestyle brand, but more importantly, it’s a community. I founded Her Universe on the platform of anti-bullying because back in 2010, there was so much bullying going on, especially for female fans. This pop culture world that we love so much, in many ways, especially sci-fi and fantasy, was considered just for men and boys. It’s not just for men and boys and it’s not just for women and girls. These stories that we love so much - Star Wars, the Marvel Universe, Jurassic Park and Jurassic World - they’re not just for men and boys or women and girls; these stories are for everyone.

I felt that if we made Her Universe a safe community where female fans could step into the spotlight, be themselves, and say, ‘Hi, I’m a girl and I like sci-fi and fantasy’ then more women and girls would step forward to say, ‘Well, I like these properties too.’ That’s what’s always been important to me first and foremost. I tell people, ‘I don’t care if you ever buy a single design from us.’ What’s more important is you come and you just feel celebrated, safe, supported, and empowered. So, the Her Universe fashion show community is an extension of that. On its surface, people may see competition and that we have 25 designers competing for two winning spots and that these two winning designers will go on to design a collection with Her Universe for Hot Topic. But really, the show is not about that. It’s about the community of designers, models, and fans that come together to celebrate geek fashion. 

What the Her Universe fashion show showed me in 2020 when, I’ll be honest, I had a very weak moment. When the show would have happened last year, it was a very sad day for me. I sat at home and questioned whether it was important or not and whether the fans would even miss it. I literally asked myself, ‘Do people even care? Are they even miss it?’ I questioned whether the show would ever come back or if this was a natural ending point. All of those thoughts swirled throughout my head and to my surprise, not only did they miss it, but the entire community came together to make this beautiful symbol of unity and community: the Unity Quilt! I can 100% tell you that it’s because of our community that the show is back because we all came together as a Her Universe team once we received this quilt and said, ‘We’ve got to find a way to bring the show back and that’s what we did!’

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