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Ashish Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear

3 min read
While it was sad that the reliably refreshing energy of Ashish’s runway show was unforthcoming this season, Uber-biking over to his West London home for a chat through this collection proved a pretty good alternative—certainly way better than Zooming. Once milk-choices were clarified and coffee kindly served, the designer lamented that this year, for the…
Ashish Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear

While it was sad that the reliably refreshing energy of Ashish’s runway show was unforthcoming this season, Uber-biking over to his West London home for a chat through this collection proved a pretty good alternative—certainly way better than Zooming. Once milk-choices were clarified and coffee kindly served, the designer lamented that this year, for the first time since 2001, he was unable to spend his usual stint in India, working with his partner factory and 70 employees to refine his collection in person. Instead he was consigned by his asthma and medical advice to stay indoors and oversee it from the kitchen table we were sitting at. “And when your family is 5,000 miles away and you’re worried about them, well, it can feel pretty horrible and worrying.”This enforced distance gave Ashish the unwanted feeling that he was being obliged to design-by-numbers, rather than with the precise, hands-on meticulousness to which he is habituated. This made him think of “touch tapestry,” or “touch ‘n’ tuck,” the old school stitch by numbers home hobby, and proved his starting point. As he said: “I know there’s something kitsch about it, but also I think there is so much beauty in kitsch.”The tapestry hoodies and dresses you see here—some overlaid with incongruously fatalist and sometimes satanist (ironically!) slogans— proved the starting beat of a collection that was produced in a series of “creative blips.” These included a stripe blip that produced tunics and dresses of striking beauty, and a “sexy dress blip” that delivered exactly what Ashish claimed it would. Because life at that point seemed episodic—hopeful one week, hopeless the next—he leaned into an episodic approach to design. “So one day I thought, I’m just going to do beautiful flowers, and another I’m going to do something really emo…I realized that I have been doing this for so many years now that the best thing was probably to just trust my judgment and move ahead; it’s that thing of acceptance.”Acceptance led to unconsciously expressed instincts, including homesickness. The knockout “Swanscape” dress was produced, Ashish said, when he was particularly pining for India. Only after its creation did he realize its kinship to the traditional renderings of Goddess Lakshmi and her swan companions (some of which hang in his hallway). The cheesy cats—consciously pixelated to reflect early video games as well as the naturally degraded resolution of images rendered in sequin—and faithful looking hound images were further explorations in the familiar, reassuring, and kitsch.Acceptance goes only so far, and what Ashish was thankful not to have had to accept is the burden of letting any of those 70 employees go: “That’s the thing we’ve achieved in 2020 of which I am most proud.” Especially in the latter stages of the year, his wilder party dresses have performed consistently at retail, with the suggestion being that if you were ever curious about the effect of wearing one of these extraordinary, pleasure-giving pieces the time to yield to that instinct is now. Because you never know when life’s kitsch tapestry will unravel.Read More

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