Caroline Issa gives her review of the Ashish's latest collection – spoiler: expect more colour and ostentatiousness than ever before!

There was a noticeable lack of bling during the recent official London Fashion Week schedule, both due to the fact that most designers are easing out of leisurewear and replacing it with "realisticwear", as well as the absence of the king of sequins, Ashish. So it was with much happiness that earlier this week, the London-based designer released his Fall/Winter 2021 collection lookbook, and we had a little jig for the burst of adrenaline it brought.

Over zoom, we asked Ashish to get the clothes up-close to the camera so we could see their details, as with every Ashish collection there is much trompe l'oeil; what you see is not what you think. Though the clothes come across as vibrant through photographs, there were a lot of gasps on this side of the monitor when one realised that the stripes of rainbow colours were in fact made up of beaded rows, a textured textile made up of many hours of hand beading.  

The tie-dye tee is in fact placed, embroidered swirls of sequins to replicate the patina of the tie-dye, or a pair of jeans that have the illusion of splattered paint turns out to have bunches of sequins instead, sewn on in a way that it's made to look like a happy accident. Michele Ronson, the grey-haired model who radiates elegance and charm in each look, brought her long career as a model to the fore and transforms the collection into something everyone and anyone could wear.

Normally a stickler for perfection, and one to be travelling constantly back and forth to India to the factories and embroiders, this lockdown meant Ashish had to trust his team to follow instructions. But it turned out that sometimes his instructions, as thorough as he thought they were, were followed to such a degree that his embroiderers would even replicate the shades of white that his photocopies had. Yet these "mistakes" in fact give much life and in the end, the result has an energy and realness that perfection could never bring.

These are clothes we're going to want to slink down the street in, show up to a party wearing – even Sam McKnight's beaded hair wigs headpieces that could go very well with a mask. If you put aside all the incredible handiwork this collection has, if you put away all the stress that designing and producing a collection far away from your factories and team puts on you, if you put to one side the anxiety levels that a year of lockdowns raise up... this Ashish collection shows us what pure creativity, love and craft can bring from the imagination. 

All photography by Will Sanders

Shop Ashish below:

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