Simone Ashley Is a Style Star to Watch

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Photography by Getty Images

From London Fashion Week to the Met Gala, the British actor’s style stays ready for the big screen.

By Natalie Michie

Date February 22, 2023

How does one describe the perfect performance? Thought-provoking. Surprising. Arrestingly interesting to watch. That’s how we feel about Simone Ashley’s style. Since starring as the protagonist of Bridgerton season 2, her outfits IRL have consistently exuded main character energy. And with her on-screen track record, that seems to come naturally.

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Née Simone Ashwini Pillai, the star first went viral in Netflix’s Sex Education, where she played Olivia, an easy-to-judge popular girl whose empathetic arc made her a fan favourite. As the outspoken and caring Kate Sharma in Bridgerton season 2, she championed the importance of sisterhood and self-assurance. Now, she’s set to appear alongside Halle Bailey’s Ariel in the upcoming retelling of Disney’s coming-of-age classic, The Little Mermaid. Needless to say, her resumé is stacked with complex female characters and stories of agency. All in all, it should come as no surprise that her real-life wardrobe is just as attention-grabbing.

With the help of stylist Rebecca Corbin-Murray, Ashley’s looks can veer anywhere from Regencycore to Disney-inspired. Amid the viral moments of London Fashion Week, the U.K.-born actor cemented herself as a style star in the making. While dashing between events in the British capital, her outfits delivered a plethora of inspiration, and even a few Easter eggs along the way.

On February 18, the 27-year-old headed to an industry party wearing a Blumarine dress that subtly channelled The Little Mermaid. The gauzy yellow skirt-and-top set was adorned with rosettes and trailing wisps of fabric reminiscent of Y2K styles. It was pulled from the label’s Spring 2023 collection, entitled “Underwater,” which paid homage to mythological siren imagery through mermaid silhouettes and flowing fabrics. What better way to hint at her upcoming role?

Next, at the 16Arlington show, Ashley put a cool-girl spin on preppy attire. Sitting front row, she wore a check-patterned dress under an oversized fur coat, paired with pointy black boots and a micro-mini clutch. The revamped workwear ensemble seamlessly balanced vintage motifs with modern flashy accents. And this penchant for playfulness is a theme.

When attending the BAFTAs afterparty on February 19, the actor paired an Alexander Vauthier bejewelled going-out top with slouchy black pants and a matching structured sequin bag. We’d be remiss not to note that this crystal blouse taps into the reimagined chainmail trend born out of Regencycore, for which we have Bridgerton to thank. But there are more references where that came from.

At the British Fashion Awards on December 5, 2022, Simone Ashley seemingly made another stylistic nod to the aquatic aesthetics of The Little Mermaid, wearing a hooded sequin gown from 16Arlington. Complemented by wet-looking hair and iridescent makeup, the slinky sheer lilac slip evoked under-the-sea ethereality. Not to mention, there was a well-placed “diamond of the seasonBridgerton reference in there, too.

Thanks to London Fashion Week and the awards-season circuit, Simone Ashley has recently become a fixture of viral fashion moments. But if you thought she was new to drawing this kind of attention, the 2022 archives would beg to differ.

When attending the Bones and All premiere at the Venice Film Festival, she made the case for minimalist statement-making in a strapless Giorgio Armani gown and slicked-back hair. Back in December, she revamped traditional finery in a tweed mini-skirt set from Alessandra Rich. From Barbiecore at the 2022 Baftas to lacy separates at the Bridgerton season 2 premiere, Simone Ashley has proven time and time again that she has range. But the best indication of her versatility so far? The 2022 Met Gala.

met gala best looks 2022 Photography courtesy of Getty Images

To mark her debut at fashion’s biggest night, the star donned an elegant custom Moschino set comprising a column skirt, a satin opera coat, and a gold embroidered bralette. The ensemble was regal, refined and inspired by Bridgerton. But to follow it up, she went in a completely different direction (naturally), wearing a cartoonish colour-blocked get-up for the soirée’s after-party. Despite being entirely different looks, she effortlessly pulled off both.

When she’s not on-screen delivering chemistry-filled romance scenes or storylines of empowerment, Simone Ashley’s style continues to warrant its own round of applause. With new releases coming in 2023, we’ll be watching to see what sartorial performances she delivers next.

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