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A DESIGNER IN ‘SEQUINS’

ASHISH

Many

young designers are rebels with dark causes. Their designs are full of inner turmoil, with edgy pieces to show for it. Because of the current global economic crisis, trends have reflected those feelings and consequences on the design world. While the majority of young designers have chosen to embrace the reality of the current crisis, in the sea of young designers with similar sequences, stands Ashish; a talented and unique designer, with a love for ‘sequins’. The Central Saint Martins graduate is quite the contrast from his intoxicatingly happy and outspoken designs. Entering the room in a quiet and discreet manner, he is timid to talk about his own

tastes and accomplishments. With designs worn by celebrities such as Madonna, Cheryl Cole and Dani Minogue, Ashish’s freshly spontaneous and upbeat designs are causing quite the stir. “I don’t look at trends”, he says, with an attitude and a seriousness which makes you understand at the instant that he is not the type of designer who wants to “fit in”, but rather one who was born to stand out. His summer 2012 collection features a mix and match of denim and sequins, sheer whites with abstractly printed numbers and fabulously elegant floor-length sequins dresses, which he says are inspired by Glen Close in the film Fatal Attraction (1987). He is quick to say that the inspirations for his collections are constantly changing. “I think you go through phases as a designer, collections are much more mature, you refine things, the journey is always good.” Born in New Delhi, India he always had a fascination with American pop culture, viewing it through the form of popular 1980’s shows such as Dynasty, he believed that America was quite a “dark place” but that the “rich people” dressed in sequins. When asked about his fascination with sequins his eyes seem to light up: “A construction of a dress in sequins is completely different than any other fabric, colour is three dimensional in sequins, you can’t make any other fabric look wet but with sequins you can.” He says. Ashish recalls gaining affinity for the fabric when he presented one of his first collections, inspired by the Wizard of Oz (1939) at Central Saint Martins, and hasn’t looked back since. Sequins have become his most influential trademark and when asked if he would ever consider going in a different direction, the designer replies: “ Why? Why should I stop doing sequins, that’s like if Burberry stops doing Trench coats, sequins is part of how I earn my living, that’s what I’ve made my career on, pretty much.” Ashish believes that clothes should be objects of desire, he believes that they shouldn’t just be clothes, but instead pieces


that you love and aren’t confined to one particular season. The designer mentions the fact that Vogue.com Fashion Editor Lynn Yeager, once purchased a small ‘Ashish shirt’ and framed it on her wall, just because she loved it that much. “ People don’t want to be reminded that they’re in a recession, I see it as liberating to always use sequins, I think it’s a shame when people think it’s ‘too much’. If you do something really special that nobody else does, you’ll survive even in hard times. Right now is not the time to make basic black trousers, it’s the time to make something different and beautiful that people will like and want to wear.” He says. Ashish mentioned his affinity for film and music, costume design for films is something he is interested in pursuing in the near future. As a child he had a quick fantasy with being a librarian surrounded by all sorts of books, but that was short lived as he always knew that fashion was his true calling. “ A lot of the written statements on the pieces in my collection are about how I am feeling at that time. I like to go by my instinct a lot, and take risks. You can’t make everyone happy, you just got to do what you love.” Says Ashish. The quality of his sequined garments is arguably unsurpassed, running your hand over his sequined dresses is quite fascinating as not one of the sequins is out of place. They shine in the light, like no other garment seen, and the designer always uses the best quality of silk in the lining of the dresses. Ashish is very proud of his product, and with reason; they are not only garments –they are also works of art. When seeking inspiration, Ashish often turns to people watching. “ I am fascinated with street fashion, I often like to video tape or take pictures of people, I love to people watch. Sometimes people wear things in unexpected ways and I find that quite interesting. Right now, I am currently obsessed with the Swedish pop star Jonna Lee from the group ‘IamamIwhoami’, I love her music and the look of her in that giant coat with a golf club.” Says the designer with enthusiasm. When asked how he would like to be remembered and what his legacy

as a designer would be, he references a scene from the documentary film by Jennie Livingston: Paris is Burning (1990) where drag queen and performer Dorian Corey says the following: “I always had hopes of being a big star. But as you get older, you aim a little lower. Everybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world. Then you think, you've made a mark on the world if you just get through it, and a few people remember your name. Then you've left a mark. You don't have to bend the whole world. I think it's better to just enjoy it. Pay your dues, and just enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you.” Ashish likes to think the same: “ I made some sequin dresses, made people happy at parties, I don’t know… I believe the same, just pay your dues and enjoy it.” The designer ends things with a coy smile and a simple shrug of the shoulders, reminding us that behind all of the bright colors and eye-catching sequins is a truly simple and honest dreamer, just like the rest of us. Interview for London College of Fashion Massiel Mancebo


Interview with Designer Ashish