A wise woman once told me that fashion is about being different, but it’s also about being the same. Whether or not you agree with that statement, it’s definitely true about runway shows. Every season, we sit on the edge of our seat expecting the best from the best, but show us something just like last season, and even if people loved it before, it’ll elicit a big yawn. At the same time, stray too far from your aesthetic and no one will recognize your brand.
A good designer evolves but knows himself, changes and even challenges his vision but doesn’t lose sight of his overall aesthetic.
But then there is Ashish Gupta, an up-and-coming designer who has had a slow rise to popularity, but is garnering more and more attention with every season that passes. Part of that is because every line is defined and distinct from the one before it. His over-the-top designs challenge the wearer and his disregard for traditional consistency have only made him more interesting. He is entirely aware that his customer isn’t the average girl, but described her once to London Fashion Week as “Fun-loving and sexy with a sense of humour. She likes to make an entrance," and another time to ASOS as simply “Up. For. It.”
Apparently there are a lot of girls who are “Up. For. It.” because this girl loves him – as do M.I.A, Madonna, Jerry Hall, Victoria Beckham, Kelly Osborne, Lily Allen and Patrick Wolf, all of whom he calls past clients. It wasn’t an easy path though. After having completed a degree in Fine Arts in India, he moved to Middlesex to complete his BA in Fashion Design and completed his MA at Central Saint Martins in 2000. He thereafter moved to Paris to continue his work, and one can only imagine how devastated he must have been when his entire portfolio of work was stolen. For a time he designed only quietly for friends, until he was found by Yeda Yun of Browns Focus in 2001. He placed his first order, and in 2004, Ashish had its first show in London Fashion Week. Way to never give up, Mr. Gupta.
Perhaps the UK’s answer to Jeremy Scott, Ashish’s style is edgy, sparkly, and a quite bit wacky, but the designer has managed to make a name of himself nationally and internationally. The Indian-born but London-based designer mixes elements from different American sub-cultures – one season involved cowboy boot motifs another used images of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. The unifying factors in design are his relentless use of sequins – many pieces of Ashish’s designs are entirely covered in sequins – mixes of uptown and downtown pieces, and a touch of some genre of rock, though usually 90’s grunge.
His Spring/Summer 2013 was all of these things. The cheeky collection was almost entirely black, white, gray and denim, and the first look featured a healthy helping of sequins and a gray sweatshirt with the words “I’m serious” written on it, also in sequins. Models wore nerd glasses, mismatched socks, chunky Reebok shoes, and scrunchies. Collars were artfully disheveled, hems diagonal, and many pieces featured only one sleeve. Large proportions, shirts with number patterns, and heavy denim pieces (again, many doused in sequins) created a 90’s math geek look. Some may cringe, but the rest of us applauded.
Since his debut, Ashish has won the New Generation award three times and has participated in a capsule collection with TopShop called “Ashish for TopShop”. His collections are stocked at Net-a-porter, Selfridges, ASOS, and a number of online and international retailers. You couldn’t call it overnight fame, but you could say that hard work pays off…and talent never goes unrecognized for too long.
Images via Fashionising.com