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Ashnikko at the BRITS
Prosthetics and make-up Georgia Olive, Hair Claire Moore, Styling Holly WoodPhotography Vasso Vu

Warts and all: the story behind Ashnikko’s alienoid BRIT Awards gown

HYDRA (agf), the London-based designer and creative director, explains the inspirations behind the polarising creation

Inflatable jumpsuits, full-body ruffles, and bubonic latex gowns, this year’s BRIT Awards saw celebrities swap their usual boring red carpet style for the sort of outfits that fall somewhere between a B-horror and those tiny organisms you see under a microscope.

For an artist who once described herself as “Hatsune Miku on crack”, Ashnikko looked every part strange and otherworldly, like alien royalty plucked out of a HR Giger sketch. Repelling any normie in the immediate vicinity, the musician emerged from her fleshy membrane mothership and landed on the red carpet wearing a warts-and-all latex gown. “It was extremely polarising. Those who loved it really did and who hated it did so with equal intensity,” says London-based founder and creative director HYDRA (agf).

Anti-fashion meets body horror, the nude latex design featured alien egg-like prosthetic augmentations running down the star’s back. “Ash wanted lots of skin showing and a very abstract component to her fleshy augmentations,” explains HYDRA. “I wanted everything (the gown, her body, and the prosthetics) to look like there was no separation between the single elements, as they would all osmotically grow out of each other.”

Flores previously collaborated with Ashnikko and photographer Vasso Vu on the artwork behind the pop star’s upcoming album and the music video for ragey new single “You Make Me Sick”, which saw Ashnikko as the mother cell feeding her dancer offspring via an elaborate tube network. “At the early stages of development of Ashnikko’s new album imagery, I was approached by Vasso Vu, who was creative directing and photographing her album campaign,” explains HYDRA. “He told me about the concept that he and Ash had created, and that as soon as they started mood boarding the actual physical shoot, it was really hard not to think of my work immediately.”

Described as a “wearable artefact”, Ashnikko’s BRITS Award dress was inspired by a hydra, a freshwater organism that regenerates by developing tiny offspring that detach from the parent body to form independent hydroids. “We had long conversations about our shared visions on new ecosystems, transpersonal intimacy and infinite rebirth,” she elaborates. Georgia Olive, the prosthetics artist, began placing and glueing the fleshy alien eggs on the artist’s body in a process that took about seven hours to complete. The latex dress was then fitted around the prosthetics: “painting and shining and lubing happened simultaneously.” 

“I was given complete creative freedom and trust, but the work was carried forward collaboratively with the whole team,“ says HYDRA. “I believe the baseline to this is that there has been a great level of understanding and dialogue built up and carried forward smoothly from project to project, a clear knowledge , understanding and respect for our individual practices and sensibilities.”

Attracting comments on social media like “new phobia unlocked” and “the used condom on the street”, HYDRA’s creation does everything a subversive design should, which is to challenge beauty standards, while repelling closed-minded normies nearby. Like the video for “You Make Me Sick”, you can practically imagine Ashnikko as the alien mother feeding her fans through her bulging boils, before they fall off and an ecosystem of infinite selves springs in their wake.

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