“I actually don’t know where the time has gone,” Ashish Gupta told Clash 17 months ago, in a conversation that announced his latest collaboration (and tenth year partnering) with high street chain Topshop (here).
Since then he has presented three collections at London Fashion Week, making a socio-political statement with the exclusive casting of black models for SS15 (something that clearly shouldn’t be a talking point in this, if you will, day and age, but remains so on account of his contemporaries lack of diversity); showed a sexed up, animal print heavy, thigh high boot accompanied AW15 collection at Tate Britain; married streetcast sk8r girls with the sass of Larry B and Jay Boogie, coupled with perhaps one of his prettiest aesthetics yet for SS16. “It was our IRL Paris and Nicole moment,” Larry later informs us.
On Friday Ashish became the latest label to show as part of the V&A’s Fashion In Motion series: Grace Wales Bonner, Sibling and Meadham Kirchhoff have all taken part in recent years, while Vivienne Westwood, Kenzo and Giles Deacon featured before them.
“It’s so fun and individual,” says Clash Fashion Editor Lola Chatterton, a regular occupier of Ashish’s sequin get-ups, on the label’s decorative notions. “His work just generally tends to make people happy.” Bright colours and shiny things certainly have that effect.
For all the fun and games associated with the Delhi born designer, Friday’s affair – four presentations, each open to the general public – offered a formal erring approach that no doubt enhanced the sentiments of the occasion. Founding his label in 2001 after completing the MA Fashion course at CSM under the esteemed Louise Wilson, 2015 marks a decade of Ashish on schedule at London Fashion Week.
And if anything Friday was a right proper celebration of the brand; even Browns Focus, the London boutique who gave Gupta his first order, got involved, hosting a day long pop-up in the museum’s entrance hall.
“I’m greatly honoured to have been asked to do a retrospective show of my work as part of the Fashion in Motion series at the V&A,” announced the designer ahead of the event. “Going through my archives has been a fun and nostalgic experience,” he continued of what presumably was a pretty colossal task.
Asked what makes Ashish stand out, Chatterton asserts, “The amount of sequins used in each collection, and that he’s not afraid to use sparkle and do something fun each season!”
“His designs,” adds co-curator Cassie Davies-Strodder, “have celebrated subcultures, blurred boundaries between evening and daywear, and made sequins ‘urban’.”
Styled by long term collaborator Anna Trevelyan (via Facetime no less), the shiny motifs provided the nucleus of the 40 look line-up, while other Ashish strengths, namely denim, similarly made a prominent appearance; riffing on the do’s debuted for SS16, hair was coated with a heavy layering of gold glitter while make-up was kept subtle.
“Ashish is really great,” states Larry B. “He’s really all about having fun and moving things forward. He’s kinda genius to do all he’s done with sequins! I’m proud to call him a friend.”
Originally meeting via Trevelyan – Gupta had been listening to Larry’s Soundcloud beforehand – the DJ has since walked in several shows, elsewhere producing the music for AW15; on Friday he reprised the former role, as the image above captures.
Revising exactly what sequins represent for most people – something a little vulgar, generally – Ashish taps a contemporary aesthetic that shifts perceptions, and as his friend affirms, “should really be seen as an inspiration to those of us that don’t fit or want to fit the mould.” That Ashish makes Instagram look good isn’t exactly harmful.
Words: Zoe Whitfield