The sequin-obsessed designer invited a cast of models and muses to the stage for Fashion in Motion, showcasing 40 looks from the past 20 seasons
On Friday, Ashish became the latest name to join the ranks of designers including Vivienne Westwood and Yohji Yamamoto invited to take part in the Victoria and Albert museum's Fashion in Motion initiative, a scheme started in 1999 with Alexander McQueen that bring fashion shows to the public.
For India born, CSM-educated Ashish, the event was timed to mark an impressive ten years of showing on the London Fashion Week schedule. Unsurprisingly, sorting through that much of an archive is no easy task. “I thought it was doing to be a really fun thing, that we were just going to open some boxes!” the designer laughed backstage. “But then at some point I just thought, ‘I’m going to have a nervous breakdown...’ It was too much stuff.” Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice available, he changed tack and decided to focus only on his favourite items from over the years. “I didn’t go by what I thought was important or by key looks, I just picked things that I feel personally attached to,” he said. “Like, if my house was going to burn down, what would I rescue? It’s not fashion week, I can be a little more self indulgent!”
“I didn’t go by what I thought was important or by key looks, I just picked things that I feel personally attached to. Like, if my house was going to burn down, what would I rescue?” – Ashish
The resulting 40 looks spanned ten years and 20 seasons, all showcased on a diverse cast that strutted down the runway in glittering heels and trainers. Even if Ashish was being selfish in his selections, there were hero pieces in abundance – like a sequinned fluorescent hi vis vest, a couture shopping bag (complete with a baguette sticking out of it) and slogan t-shirts with phrases that careened between the rebloggable (‘I’m having a shit day, thanks’) to the political (‘Love will win’ on a rainbow top). There were the slip dresses and camo coats from AW15’s sexually-charged collection, cowgirl separates from SS11, Americana kitsch courtesy of SS14’s Coca Cola logomania and Van Gogh-inspired sunflower pieces from SS12. Some garments – including a dress with the Mona Lisa meticulously recreated in sequins from SS10 – had to be remade, having gone walkabouts from the archive.
His casting reflected the diversity of his designs – “You know when people walk in and you just go, ‘I really want to know you’? That’s how I choose models. I always think it should be more like a movie, where you're choosing people to play parts,” the designer explained. From Instagram it girl Charlie Barker to DJ Larry B, Ashish was set on selecting but people with personality. “Like Larry – you don't even need to tell him anything, he just does his thing. It’s quite inspirational.”