Our sequinned-favourite Ashish will celebrate his 10 year anniversary with an exclusive set of shows at the V&A tomorrow.
Ashish’s sequin-covered collections are what Wonderland’s dreams are made of. Each show is so fresh, so of the moment and so covered in sequins it’s without a doubt one of our LFW highlights. Imagine our delight when the V&A announced they would be hosting a 10 year catwalk retrospective of Ashish’s glittering collections as part of their Fashion in Motion series? It was intense. The shows are open to the public (and tickets are free!) and this might just be your chance to experience an Ashish show in all its glorious, colourful magic!
To coincide with the event, Browns, who have long championed Ashish’s work, will be hosting a Browns Focus x Ashish pop up shop at the museum. Not only will you be able to see an archive selection of his amazing creations, but you’ll also get to shop it. How convenient. Ahead of tomorrow’s shows, Wonderland caught up with Ashish himself to see what he’s learnt from the last ten years.
Congratulations on your Fashion in Motion show – it’s so exciting!
Oh I know! I didn’t really think about it and then I thought, oh hang on a minute! You’ve actually been doing this for quite a long time now…
You’ve been showing for over 10 years now, haven’t you?
I mean I’ve done collections for longer but we’ve shown for ten years. I’m disregarding two collections that I really hate, but yes! Apart from that, ten years!
I wanted to say that I was almost surprised you’d been showing for ten years as your collections always feel so fresh!
I know! In American they still think I’m a young, emerging designer… It’s so bizarre. Like lots of people in the US just think I’m a new designer. It’s kind of a compliment in a way…
I think it is because you’re so on point and fresh and everything always feels so new! How do you achieve that?
I don’t really know, I never really think about it, but I guess it’s that thing where you know you…it’s really hard to say actually! I’ve never thought about it strangely enough, I think I just go by instinct quite a lot. I don’t really think about trends in fashion, I think it’s more to do with how I’m feeling or the things I like at that point, the things I don’t like, the things that excite me. I like to think ‘I’m really excited about this thing at the moment’ or, ‘I’m really excited by these people’. What they are wearing, what they are doing, where are they going? I suppose in a way that’s a bit like tapping into a culture – what’s going on.
I think it’s getting a feeling of what you’re inspired by, what feels new to you… and what things you feel you’ve seen before and you don’t want to see at that point. And then, I’m very inspired by people – young people, what the kids are doing, what they’re wearing – god, I sound really old… I’m really fascinated by culture and things that are going on and I suppose you can’t help but channel that a little bit into what you do.
Do you feel like going through your archives for the Fashion in Motion show has been like reliving all of these memories then? Is it quite nostalgic?
Yeah, it’s quite fascinating actually and it is nice yes, nostalgic. There’s a few things you look at and you think you can’t believe you did them… Or, you can’t remember doing them and it’s quite nice to see them and then I suppose it’s times of your life – because it’s quite personal I think… All of my work feels quite personal to me. So you know some things do have certain associations with them. It’ beens quite a mammoth process going through literally 20 seasons… 100 samples every season, that’s something like 2000 pieces of clothing… It’s kind of quite crazy actually. Then to try and condense that into a ten minute show… pick out the best bits – it’s quite a project! It’s quite nice as well, I kind of realise, ‘Oh I didn’t know I had that!’. It’s quite interesting now to try and recreate it.
What stories have you rememebered from different collections? Have you thought wow that’s amazing or even, I can’t believe I ever made that?
Absolutely, there’s one collection I did when I was on anti depressants, that I just hate, I can’t even look at it… that collection is awful, I can’t even go there. Not good. Then there’s the couple of collections when I was going through a happier time in my life and they reflect that a little bit. It’s also I think to do with where I was living for example… It’s to do with situations and people I suppose. It kind of reminds you who you were hanging out with, what you were doing, where you were.
Sometimes good and sometimes bad then?
Yes, that’s life.
Which archive pieces are you most excited to bring back and share with people?
Mmmm… there was a little dress I did with a sequin queen of hearts on it that I thought I’d lost actually, but I haven’t lost it so I’m quite excited that I’ve found that and pulled it out… Hopefully that’s going to make the final cut. Also there’s this very beautiful 1950s ‘pouffy’ dress with the most incredible floral embroidery all over it… it’s one of the things I always thought was very beautiful. That again I thought I’d displaced it and I hadn’t and I found it – I’m really looking forward to that, it’s going to be quite beautiful!
Do you have a criteria for picking the pieces to go in the show?
I think I’ve just been picking all my favourite things and then lining them up and starting to put things together and see what works. I think it would be interesting to do it chronologically, so you see the earlier bits and then you move in to later things, but you can see the progression so that’s one way I’m thinking of doing it. But then visually, I want it to tell a story, I don’t want it to be just fifty random things put together that don’t make any sense. I think it needs to be done in a way where it makes visual sense. In terms of telling a story a little bit – it’s going to be quite challenging but it will be fun also hopefully!
Do you aim to tell stories with your collections? Do you try to weave a narrative into your collections?
Never consciously. When I’m designing I never think ‘Oh she’s this woman blah blah blah’, but it’s kind of what happens… it’s an organic process, so I’ll design a collection and I’ll have a vague idea in my head of where it’s going and then I’ll let it go there naturally and when I start putting it all together and styling it then this creation kind of happens. I think that’s the most natural way of doing it so it kind of tells its own story in a way. The clothes are telling their own story, and the character – in a way – comes out of the clothes. I think that’s what happens more with me, I don’t like to have this pre-imagined fantasy character in my head and then feel that’s quite limiting in a way. If you do it the other way you don’t really know where you’re going to go, so I find that a bit more exciting.
In terms of talking about the Ashish woman, your casting is always so strong and on point, we’re always really excited by who’s walking in your shows. What kind of woman is the Ashish woman?
I think it’s somebody quite… I think the way I approach casting is more like casting for a film than a fashion show. Also, I’m really bored. I find it extremely boring to do the whole 30 white girls, all the same looking, very generic, you know? Like a homogenized army… where you almost don’t want personality you just want the clothes. I think the two, however, are so interconnected. Like when you wear a piece of clothing it does actually change the way you feel, and has got to do with the way you wear clothes – and everybody wears clothes in a different way… So I think that that is part of the story of fashion and clothes… It’s who’s wearing it and how are they wearing it. I think that’s really important and it really effects what I like to see, you know you can put a dress on a girl and you can put the same dress on a boy and completely change it’s v-neck. So, I think that context becomes really important. When we do casting it’s really important to think what you’re trying to say with a piece of clothing.
That’s a really interesting way of looking at it.
Yes, but I think in reality that’s how clothes are worn. You know, when people say they love to watch people on the street… You know when you’re sitting in a café and people look interesting it’s not always just what they are wearing, it’s how they are wearing it and who they are, and what is it that is interesting about them? You can put a white t-shirt on two people and it can mean two completely different things. It can be worn in two completely different ways. I think that’s really interesting to me, and it makes it more like a movie, and also more real in a way. Actually, it’s more like real life and we live in a really diverse multicultural city… you know if you get on the train on the way home you’re sitting with lots of different types of people and I don’t see why that shouldn’t be reflected in fashion.
I think it’s a bit weird having one model that isn’t white at a fashion show. It’s weird. It doesn’t make any sense to me at all… It’s almost like a token gesture… Just trying to be more inclusive… I guess people have their own vision and all that, but personally I don’t find it very exciting or very interesting.
Maybe that’s part of what keeps your shows so fresh then, that they are really reflecting the world you’re living in at that time?
Maybe, I never watch my shows though!
Hiding in the background!
Well you have to be backstage! I always get jealous of the people watching it! I want to hide and watch the show myself.
Your shows create quite a frenzy, but you always keep quite a low profile, is it important to you that your clothes and shows speak for themselves.
I think I’ve always just been quite shy and quiet… I don’t really go to lots of parties… And, I wanted to keep a part of my life to myself… So I’ve just always ended up keeping a low profile… and I’m always a shy person, I’ve always been like that. I get quite awkward sometimes in big social situations, so I guess that’s probably why I keep quite a low profile.
Your instagram always makes us laugh so much though, do you think having a sense of humour is really important in fashion?
I think having a sense of humour is important in life in general! I think if you can’t laugh about something you might as well shut it down… you know, what’s the point? Life is fucked up and hard enough and I think it’s nice to be able to have a laugh about things. I now it sounds like a cliché but… Sometimes the best things are clichés…
How did it feel to be selected for Fashion in Motion?
It felt like a bit of a surprise… because I’ve never done it before and it’s been like ten years and then it came up and I was like oh yeah this is cool! Obviously I’m really pleased and it’s a great honour to have been asked to do it, so I’m super happy and super excited to be honest. I always think of myself as quite little, as quite niche… and I always think people don’t really know what I do, so it’s quite nice to be chosen in that way.
What are you most excited about the show?
Im not sure actually… I think just putting the show together is the most exciting thing! Also I think it’s nice to It’s about the archive, and it’s about you and I can be a bit more really… you know, if I want to really camp it up then I can camp it up or if I just want a disco soundtrack I’ll have it – so it’s quite nice in a way!
For more information on the V&A’s Fashion in Motion: Ashish, click here.
WORDS: Laura Isabella