Photo Credit: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images/Mark Von Holden/WireImage
Any new mom is entitled to be neurotic in my book or even slightly neurotic, which is why when designer Rachel Ashwell, creator of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture, described Jessica Simpson and fiancé Eric Johnson as probably the most “unneurotic people” she ever met, it definitely caught my attention.
Rachel said Jessica even lets her hold 4-month-old Maxwell! (How many moms do you know who won’t let you touch their baby until she’s a toddler!) “It’s not like she’s neurotic about it,” the successful designer told me, during a nearly hour-long exclusive interview about Simpson, iVillage’s newest Guest Editor. “It’s just natural.”
Jessica’s modest upbringing, Rachel believes, has kept her very grounded and has made mothering the easiest of transitions. “Yes, it’s lovely to see her sit on a beautiful sofa ... feeding her child but it doesn’t really matter. She would be just as comfortable probably sitting on a tree stump. You can just tell that for her the mothering piece, it’s natural, it’s how she’s wired,” she added.
Rachel has gotten to know the singer-actress-fashion company creator very well. Jessica reached out to Rachel to design Maxwell’s nursery. “She actually didn’t want to do that over-the-top, frou-frou, lacey which is what people kept presenting to her, “ Rachel said. “I think I went to her house and ... our word of the day became ‘pretty.’ I mean, she obviously knew she was having a girl but ‘pretty,’ ‘bohemian,’ bit of ‘gypsy,’ bit of ‘country,’ those were kind of my aesthetic, kind of go-to words when I was pulling things together.”
Jessica liked what Rachel did so much, she asked her to design the rest of her house, which she did in record time, as well as create the décor for her 32nd birthday party, also in record time. (See what Rachel designed for the birthday bash below.) The two have developed a “wonderful connection,” said Rachel, who told me she is also in Jessica’s Weight Watchers group. “It’s a family feeling. Her mom is in there, a lot of her friends, a lot of her associates so it’s an intelligent group,” said Rachel. When Eric’s around, Rachel said, “he pops his head in and says, ‘You know what, whatever size you guys are, I love you no matter what.” Awww!!
Photo courtesy of Kristin Burns
Rachel describes Eric as “one of the best gentlemen” she’s met in her “entire life.” “He’s quite a spiritual seeker, you know, as far as meditation,” said Rachel. (Jessica told us that being around Eric is like being with a Zen master!) Jessica also made sure that Eric was considered in their home redesign. “It (was) very important to give him his little man-cave and we did and it’s lovely ... She loved it for him and he loved it.”
As for Jessica, Rachel says she’s very much focused, like most new moms, on her baby. “She’s kind of just hunkered down. She’s got a new baby, a new redecorated home, her friendships and all of that, and that’s her focus. Her focus is, ‘Okay, I’m a mom now and I’ve got to lose this weight.'”
About the weight and the media’s obsession with it, Rachel says Jessica isn’t sweating all those photos when she was very pregnant. “She’s got quite a sense of humor, you know, ‘I’ll show them,' and the unveil and 'They won’t believe it.”
"She's just great," Rachel said. We agree!
To see Rachel's gorgeous designs and products, head to www.rachelashwellshabbychiccouture.com.
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