Following her recent appointment at MR PORTER, Style Council director Ashlyn Chesney speaks to MWB’s Victoria Jackson about the relaunch of the Style Council – a digital guide to bars, restaurants and hotels in key cities worldwide – her favourite London hotspots and what she feels is the secret to MR PORTER’S success.
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Style Council director, Ashlyn. What does your role at MR PORTER entail?
My role is to oversee all Style Council business at MR PORTER, looking after its existing members and fostering new relationships with the most stylish and influential men in the world, in order to bring the best travel and dining recommendations to MR PORTER’s global audience. The Style Council is an ambassador-driven city guide resource, which users can access through the website or by downloading an app. It gives recommendations and tools to discover and navigate the world’s best bars, restaurants, hotels and brands and features tips and tricks from the likes of Pharrell Williams and Hugh Jackman.
What was your previous role before working with the company?
I have had the privilege of working across various industries throughout my career. When in the fashion industry I managed and produced runway shows which prepared me for the moving parts of hospitality, where I worked alongside hotelier André Balazs for several years. During my time with Hotels AB, we opened the company’s first international property, The Chiltern Firehouse, which is what brought me to London in the first place.
You are set to relaunch the Style Council concept – what updates and changes can users expect?
We’ve made many updates to the technology behind the city guide resource, as well as to the program itself, so a relaunch felt like the best way to reintroduce it to the world. Most notable for users is that the Style Council can now also be accessed easily on the go and is a service that can integrate into their daily lives. We’ve made it interactive and added new tech and social media enhancements by integrating Google Maps and Instagram feeds, along with OpenTable and Uber, so users can book reservations and rides directly from the Style Council page on MR PORTER and in the app.
How do you go about choosing Style Council members across the world?
Many of our existing Style Council members, from all around the globe, have had a long-standing relationship with MR PORTER. Meeting new Style Council members now mostly consists of organic introductions made by existing members.
What characteristics do you look for in a Style Council candidate?
I consider taste makers and trailblazers that have an interesting take on life, appreciate all manners of style and culture and whom we believe the MR PORTER reader will find inspirational and aspirational.
Do you think retailers need to create something more than a successful e-commerce site to keep customers returning? How important is editorial content, when you have a strong brand mix?
As we don’t have a physical store space where our customers can immerse themselves, telling the stories behind our brands in an immersive editorial space is imperative to MR PORTER. Our editorial section gives us an opinion, a tone of voice and an area to connect, challenge, educate, inform, inspire and entertain through interviews, features and video content.
If we were to ask you personally for a bar, restaurant and hotel recommendation in London, what would they be?
If you’re visiting London, I would suggest staying at The Ham Yard Hotel and starting a day off by having breakfast at The Wolseley (because they do bacon better than anywhere else in the city). After breakfast, stroll over to Mark’s Club and (depending on the season – and if you’re a member) either sit by the fire or on the terrace, enjoying a tea. Through the MR PORTER app you could then book an Uber to take you to Blanchette for lunch, although it would be a hard to choose between the Soho and East London location. For dinner, I would suggest gathering some local friends at Nopi’s communal table (which you could also book via the App) and then rounding out your day with some cocktails and bowling back at The Ham Yard.
Who are your three favourite menswear designers?
There are far too many, but I have to admit that the theatre of Thom Browne inspires me every season, alongside my current obsession with several pieces from Dries van Noten. I also love a man in a Frescobol Carioca swim short.
Most expensive purchase in your wardrobe?
Probably a floor-length houndstooth cape by Michael Kors Collection or a vintage choker necklace that I was inspired to buy after seeing Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I.