Dallas hairstylist and fashionista Gregg Asher has an unforgettable look. But he’s turning his eye on the rest of Dallas with a new fashion blog
STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer email@example.com
There are people who, when they walk into a crowded room, turn heads.
And then there’s Gregg Asher, who’s probably responsible for more cases of socialite whiplash than anyone else in Dallas.
Along with partner David Martin, Asher infuses the see-and-be-party-scenes with a heavy dose of high glamour through attention-grabbing personal style. Laden with designer brands from toe to head (he builds his outfits from the shoes up), it’s not just who he’s wearing, but what he’s wearing. If there are two signature items in a Gregg Asher ensemble, it’s gorgeous high-heel shoes and amazing handbags.
But, he stresses, he’s not doing drag. Or cross-dressing. His is a style that transcends traditional labels — while piling on plenty of couture ones.
Perhaps surprisingly, his fashion fierceness partly stemmed from pure necessity. He wears a size 5½ men’s shoe and weighs less than most female supermodels. Shopping off-the-rack in the men’s department was not an option. The boys’ section, maybe. But Asher in Garanimals? Just. Not. Right.
“My waist size — they don’t even make pants my size. So I need to either go to Asia to go shopping — and I don’t have time for that — or it’s easier for me to go buy something for women at Barneys or Neiman’s or J. Crew. Whatever it is that suits me.”
It all comes down to what he thinks is beautiful, no matter where it’s found in-store.
“I don’t wear dresses. I don’t want to be a woman. I have more of a beard than straight burly men in the sticks could ever grow,” he says. “But when you find something that you enjoy wearing, or doing, it makes you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t have to be a dollar-and-cents thing; it just has to make you happy.”
Asher’s soothing, soft voice is in stark contrast to his outward extravagance and sharp humor. When a man walks into a room wearing Burberry Prorsum platform buckle boots and a Jean-Paul Gaultier scoop-neck sweater, chances are most people would expect some obnoxious queen with an affected attitude matched with a horsey cackle. But nothing could be further from the truth for Asher. At any Dallas party, he’s probably the kindest, most approachable person in the room. It’s just his wardrobe that’s intimidating.
When we meet at his swanky Turtle Creek high-rise, he answers the door in a green cashmere turtleneck and flared tan corduroys by Balenciaga, a green-blue-yellow tree-print jacket from Tuleh and burgundy suede Fendi platforms. You know: typical Sunday afternoon casual. At least in the Asher manse.
Italian couture is a far cry from Jonesboro, Ark., where Asher grew up. But he learned early on to embrace his individuality, ultimately turning it into a successful career as hairstylist to some of Dallas’ highest profile citizen (among his clients: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders), as well as a trendsetter and fashion icon in his own right.
His enthusiasm for style led Asher into his latest venture, a blog called FashionBaggage.com. As a regular at New York Fashion Week and runway shows all over the world, the fashion part comes easy. It’s the technology that was a little iffy for him.
“I didn’t even have a computer until, like, two months,” he says. “Even in high school when they offered computer class my senior year, I was like, ‘Oh no, I’d rather take home ec.’” He laughs, knowing that’s even funnier since neither he nor Martin cook.
Asher posts entries at least every other day, offering up witty commentary on current trends, revealing his latest purchases, playing dress-up with Martin and snapping candid pictures of the fashion dos-and-don’ts he encounters around town; he says spotting an Hermes Kelly bag on someone at the State Fair of Texas restored his fashion faith in humanity.
“We can all read Vogue, and sometimes it’s over your head. I always felt like I was a laughed-at personality in the community, so why not write all that down and let others be entertained by it,” he says. Then he reveals his more strategic side: “Ultimately I’m working and branding myself into the TV market, so it’s just one more step in the process and adding more variety to the things that I already can do.”
Asher is currently working with three different production companies on a variety of ideas, though he admits his appeal is more niche, making it easier to work a story around him than fit him into some reality-show mold. Although that’s not to say that he wouldn’t consider a role on Logo’s The A-List: Dallas.
“I’m not hunky enough and I definitely won’t be taking off my shirt for any of that, but I have enough drama and excitement in my life to add something to that show,” he says.
“I think there’s a stereotypical version of what a gay man is and I don’t fall under that. I almost embody what a lot of people find that they’re embarrassed about the gay community or what they think the gay community gets a bad rap for,” Asher says. “And I think I elevate the community just as much as anybody else does, I just do it in a different way.”
ASHER’S TRENDS: DOS AND DON’TS
You don’t need to read up on back issues of Vogue to have insight into where style is headed — just listen to Gregg Asher’s recommendations about what you can do to spruce up your wardrobe:
I love heels (obviously) and think women should definitely wear them — they elongate the silhouette and make anyone’s legs look better. I love Fendi shoes because their heel heights are almost teetering on too high (though a heel can never be too high). One of my favorite shoes for guys for this fall/winter is the entire collection from Rick Owens who shows platform wedges. Yes, it’s probably way too avant-garde for most men, but it’s super sexy and totally masculine when worn with the right clothing. And there’s nothing greater in fashion than someone who is totally confident — and these boots demand that!
Trends that I’m seeing for guys for spring are lots of denim. In fact, when I was at Fashion Week, it seems denim is everywhere (for guys and girls), but this is not your everyday, regular old pair of jeans — it’s been treated and cut into modern silhouettes and shapes, and the denim is used for all pieces and has great details (even laser cut lace pieces of this fabric look new and fresh).
Another trend would be for men to definitely retire the super skinny pants that show off your stuff. For spring, show off a new change in trousers. What I’m seeing in high fashion that will eventually trickle down to more mainstream venues is wider leg pants and pleats. One of my favorite collections showing this for spring is Raf Simons who presented a beautiful super wide leg, extremely long pant in crisp white or black. It has so much drape and pleating, it almost looked gathered and wrapped around the body and waist. He even showed it with sleeveless shirts and vests to almost give a summer suit effect.
Overly styled hair is a don’t for me. We’re not living in a pageant, no one is perfect, and sometimes minor imperfections are your best strengths.
Buy clean underwear. Union Jack is a great place for a large selection in any cut and color. Women change their bras continuously, so men should change their underpants regularly in terms of styles — make sure the style goes with your outfit by not giving you panty lines. That means sometimes you have to change the style of the underwear to go with the style and cut of the pants you’re wearing. There’s nothing worse than a man in ill-fitting undies. My mother always told me, to make sure you always have on clean underwear before you go out just in case there was an accident and you have to go to the hospital. Words to live by!
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.