>> London Fashion designers have had a tumultuous year of celebrations and shutterings. In between Meadham Kirchhoff declaring they could no longer sustain their business last year and Jonathan Saunders as the latest (and perhaps most surprising) casualty, the likes of Christopher Kane, Erdem, Nicholas Kirkwood and Roksanda Ilincic have all notched up ten year anniversaries, each celebrated with a varying amount of gusto. One London Fashion Week sequinned stalwart though, has also quietly clocked just over a decade of being in business is Ashish Gupta. His wares might be brilliantly sparkly but perhaps he’s never had that mega-hype spotlight shone upon him and he prefers it that way.
“It’s scary how many have disappeared over the years,” said Ashish. “People that I went to school with were hyped up for a while and then suddenly, you’d never hear about them again.” From losing his graduate portfolio at the Gare du Nord, whilst on the way to job interviews fifteen years ago, to where Ashish is now, he has come a long way, honing in on a niche, sticking with it and exploring it to its full potential. He did allow himself a moment to look back and reflect when he staged a Fashion in Motion retrospective show at the Victoria & Albert Museum back in October.
I wasn’t able to attend but killing two birds with one stone, whilst interviewing him for an upcoming book about London fashion designers, I thought I’d zoom in on the hours and hours of hand sewn sequins that have garnered a solid fanbase over the years. Taking advantage of the skills of Ashish’s home country India, he has coaxed the unexpected out of the sequin – de-shining it if you will by rendering garments like a pair of jeans, a cowboy shirt, a safety vest and a ripped-up sweater in graduated layers of sequins, palettes and beading. Eschewing the obvious routes of bling that perhaps his fellow Indian designers are known for, Ashish has taken the sequin to places you’d never thought it go – like a top that says “I’m have a shit day, thanks” in disco-ready black and silver. Even if you aren’t a magpie by nature, you’d at least be able to chuckle at Ashish’s chutzpah. Striking the balance of not wavering from a design signature and moving collections forward with discernible change is a tricky thing to do, especially in a city like London, where newness and revolution represents the fashion holy grail, but Ashish has done it without too much fanfare. Instead he haps upon fans, who readily buy his sequinned pieces, paying a fair price for all of those hours of hand embroidery. That’s a surer sign that Ashish can enjoy another ten years of being in business.