STYLE TAILORS: Kirsty Williams & Michael Ashton with Sir Maximilian

Michael Ashton and Kirsty Williams with their dog Sir Maximillian

StyleTails sat down with celebrity make-up artist, Michael Ashton and Managing Director of Insanity Group, Kirsty Williams along with Sir Maximilian, their rather regal pooch.

Owning a dog in a city can be a challenge – what with silly working hours, regular jaunts abroad and a healthy social life. After yearning for canine companionship in the big city for years, dog lovers and best friends, Michael Ashton and Kirsty Williams came up with the very nouveau idea of co-parenting. I caught up with this delightfully unique family to get the lowdown on Adele’s perfect liquid liner, that slit in Angelia’s Oscars gown and of course what it’s like to be co-parents of the devilishly handsome Sir Maximilian.

ST: You’ve been working with hugely successful recording artist Adele for 6 years. How did that come about?

MA: “I started working with Adele just prior to the release of her debut album ‘19’ when we were introduced through a mutual connection. I’m lucky to have been working with her since the beginning and it’s fantastic to have a client whose success is all about natural talent.”

ST: Apart from her amazing voice, Adele’s 60’s hair and make-up have become the signature of her look. Where did the inspiration originally come from and how has it evolved? 

MA: “Like with anything, a style evolves organically over time. Eyeliner has been a focus feature of her make up look since we started working together. She has beautiful almond shaped eyes which means she can carry any look, but I think the classic liquid liner is simple and striking, whilst at the same time just a little bit sexy.”

ST: How did you celebrate her recent wins at the Golden Globes? 

MA: “I had an early morning of business meetings the following day and then a flight back to London, so it was a glass of Pinot Noir and a relaxing bubble bath at my hotel – SO rock’n’roll ! ”

Michael Ashton and his dog Sir Maximilian

ST: Most of us can only dream of looking as flawless as stars on the red carpet. Make us feel better by telling us how long it takes to create a look for an awards night?

MA: “Depending on the client and the event you’re getting ready for, it can take anywhere between two to four hours, but that often includes allowing time for final dress alterations, jewellery decisions, manicures and body make up to ensure every last detail is picture perfect and ready for the cameras.”

ST: Share with us a trick of the trade that will change our (beauty) lives? 

MA: “Contouring and highlighting your face is the ultimate way of creating a truly three dimensional polish. Analyse your face in frontal low-lighting and see where you get natural shadows under the cheekbones, jawline and nose and then enhance these areas using either a contour powder or cream, or deeper shade of foundation. Once you’ve blended and shaded the areas, use a highlighting product to emulate the areas a spotlight would bounce light onto your face.”

ST: You and Kirsty co-parent Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – Sir Maximilian. How did the idea come about? 

MA: “I had wanted to get a dog for a while, but didn’t know how I could own a dog without having to give up the travel that comes with my job. Kirsty and I were discussing this over a Sunday lunch and it turned out she had been thinking the exact same thing. As we are great friends and live within 10 minutes of each other, we decided that co-parenting would be the perfect solution so that we had shared responsibility and our dog got the best of both worlds!

How did Sir Maximilian come into your lives? 

After deciding that we wanted to adopt a dog rather than getting one from a pet store or breeder, we went to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to meet with the liaison manager there, Jane Warden. Within a few days 9 month old Sir Maximilian (formally known as Bailey) was heading to his new homes in West London.”

Kirsty Williams with Sir Maximilian

ST: You represent lots of celebrity clients at Insanity Group. What do you think gives some people the edge on others in terms of success and longevity in the industry?

KW: “I’d say that longevity is probably a mixture of talent, integrity and the ability to grow and adapt with the industry. Success is also down to hard work. I’ve been managing TV Presenter and Fashion expert, Louise Roe, for 6 years now and I’ve never known someone to work as hard as Louise.”

ST: What advice would you give to people wanting to break into the entertainment industry? 

KW: “Try and get as much work experience under your belt as possible. The industry is so varied, so I’d also suggest trying out different areas before focusing on one. You need to be tenacious without appearing OTT and do your research – I’m always impressed by people who appear to have done their homework.”

ST: What’s the most surreal situation you’ve ever found yourself in? 

KW: “It would definitely be attending the Oscars last year with Louise Roe. Louise was hosting the Red Carpet pre-oscars show for the official broadcasters, ABC and I was stood to the side of Angelina when she pulled the famous pose in her black gown with her leg cocked to one side. From where I was standing, she looked very elegant!”

ST: Co-parenting is a very modern approach to pet ownership. Tell us a bit about how you and Michael make it work? 

KW: “I’d say firstly, Michael and I are best friends. When entering into co-parenting you have to be able to trust and appreciate the other person. Michael is freelance which means Max lives with him most of the time, but when Michael has shoots and travels with his clients I will have Max.  He comes into the office with me which is great as all my colleagues adore him and he loves the attention. If we ever get stuck, and we’re both busy, we use James at Hyde Park Hounds who is brilliant with Max.”

ST: What advice would you give to people who are thinking about co-parenting? 

KW: “Ensure that you have been friends for a long while and that you know each others likes and dislikes. You have to be happy to compromise and understand that each others schedules may vary. It’s also great to have good friends close by in case you are ever away at the same time and need someone to look after your dog.

Sir Maximilian


What’s the best thing about spending your time between Kirsty and Michael? 

I’m lucky that unlike most other dogs I get to have two houses and two lovely big bed’s to sleep in. It also it means that I have twice as many friend’s who I can show my trick’s to.

What’s your most treasured possession? 

My most treasured possession would have to be the bespoke Zigwagz collar that was designed especially for me with my name ‘Sir Max’ on it and a crown – it’s fit for a king!

Bespoke designer dog collar by ZigZwags

Describe your style in 3 words? 

Classic, Elegant, Regal.

Are you looking to make a foray into showbiz? Do you think you could be the next Uggie?

I really respect Uggie and everything he has accomplished in his career and I’m most definitely open to the idea. My doggie dream is to be the new face of Mulberry.

What’s your worst habit?

Daddy says I must have an itchy tongue as I’m always kissing EVERYONE, but I’m just an extremely friendly sort of gent or is it a cad ? Also sometimes my doggy pal Mr Falkor say’s I tweet too much, although it’s very important to keep our ‘Klout’ score’s up …….. so be sure to send us a message @1MagnificentMax @MrFalkor

What’s your favourite treat ?

I do like to be in peak physical condition, so my diet is very strict! On special treat day’s I get scrambled eggs with Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend added in my James Wellbeloved biscuit’s. Sunday’s are my favourite day of the week though as the lovely ladies that work at the pub give me roast chicken from the kitchen when no ones looking.

Who are your ultimate dinner party guests? 

‘Giggy The Pom’ from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, David Attenborough because he’s the king of animals and Chris Rock – he is the voice of Marty from my favourite film, Madagascar .

Open your little black book and tell us some of your favourite dog-friendly haunts in London? 

The Elgin in Maida Vale

The Bridge House in Little Venice

The Paradise in Kensel Rise

– Alfies Antique’s Market in Marylebone

Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge


*Special thanks to Adrian and Tessa at The Elgin / Colin Taylor at Just Barking 

Sara is the Founder & Editor of StyleTails. A writer, design-lover and long-time animal-hugger, Sara launched StyleTails in 2012 to inspire people live a more beautiful life with their four-legged friends. Along with her canine sidekick George, a rescue Yorkie with a big attitude, Sara regularly commentates on luxury pet product and lifestyle trends and has been featured in Elle Decoration, BBC Radio, and is also an expert contributor to WGSN, the leading design trend forecaster.

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