People always ask Ashley Benson what she’s wearing. Before we go any further, get your head out of the gutter. The Pretty Little Liars alum is talking about fragrance here. “I’m very much a fragrance person, always have been,” she tells StyleCaster at The Ned Nomad Hotel in New York. “I think it kind of started when I was younger with my grandmother, she was just super classy, was always dressed to the nines and always smelled good.”
The 32-year-old has a particular penchant for experimenting and layering different scents to make something totally unique to her; an individualized fragrance that has garnered her countless compliments over the years. “I came up with this specific scent that I’ve been wearing for a couple of years now but it’s mixed with a bunch of different things and everyone always asks what I’m wearing,” she says.
It was in Morocco in 2019, where Benson celebrated her 30th birthday, wandering through a Marrakesh bazaar that she stumbled upon a bespoke perfumer. After three hours of sampling scenes, Benson walked away with seven fragrances to serve as a memento of this very special vacation, as well as serve as the inspiration for her own line, ASH by Ashley Benson, which is out now. It’s also her first solo venture, having co-founded the sunglasses label Privé Revaux in 2017 and craft spirits brand Thomas Ashbourne earlier in 2022.
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21 months of development resulted in two curated, genderless and layerable scents. They’re a love letter to Benson’s favorite places in the world: East 12th, a cedar-and-rose blend that captures the essence of the East Village; and The Eighth, a mix of bergamot and musk inspired by the Eighth Arrondissement in Paris. Specifically the sultry, red velvet-draped interiors of Hôtel Costes.
Benson has called New York home for six years, having sold her home in her native Los Angeles after Pretty Little Liars wrapped filming in October 2016. Enjoying her own company and taking herself to restaurants—which she says she couldn’t do in LA because “people look at you weirdly for even walking alone”—New York grants Benson a special kind of anonymity. It’s valuable for someone whose private life has served as significant fodder for tabloids (Benson famously dated supermodel Cara Delevigne for two years but they broke up sometime in 2020). “I was bothered every single day,” she says, of living in LA. “In New York, I can step out of my place and go for coffee. I’m not paranoid here ever.”
The city also has played an important part in her emotional evolution; in finding self-confidence and acceptance. “Everyone’s just so sure of themselves here being and in LA, I just feel like everyone’s trying to be something else,” she says.
Benson hasn’t watched the Pretty Little Liars spinoff, Original Sin. “I don’t really watch a lot of TV,” she says, “and I think because I spent so much time in that world, I don’t really want to see another version of it.” She adds that she wouldn’t rule out a reunion, though. “With the original cast? Amazing,” she says.
Having played Hanna Marin on the teen mystery/thriller series for seven years, it’s understandable to want to leave it where it lies. After all, a person does a lot of growing up when they enter their 30s. “So many people know me from when I was younger, but I’m obviously a very different person now,” she says. “I’m in this new chapter in my life as an adult… and that does come with being confident in who I am.”
ASH by Ashley Benson is available now. The fragrances retail for $79 (for the 50mL bottles) and $25 (for the 8mL bottles).