February 20, 2013

While sitting on the front row waiting for Ashish‘s A/W 2013 presentation to start at the BFC Courtyard Showspace at Somerset House, I was abruptly approached by representatives of the Swedish media (accompanied by an entourage of television cameras and bright lights) asking me if I would be willing to give a quick pre-show interview. Furnished with the pseudo-confidence afforded to me by my red dress and ostentatious sunglasses I replied, “Yes, of course”, without any sort of reflection on what said interview might entail.

Before I knew it, I was being asked to sum up Ashish as a label in a few short sentences. What came out, despite my nervousness (and never even having seen an Ashish show live before TBH), still managed to be a reasonably informed, semi-competent answer. Ashish is a young designer, and his collections always reflect something about the local youth culture in London, which in turn is increasingly itself being influenced by Internet culture. Hence Ashish’s collections often feel like they possess a relaxed youthful glamour, without giving the impression of too much thought. Think shirts with humorous, sardonic phrases plastered across them like “I’M SERIOUS”, paired with grungy, over-sized, clearly-not-serious, sparkly black trousers.

Thematically, Ashish’s new collection distinguishes itself by being centered on the working girl. Not that kind of working girl (although, as it turns out, Ashish has mentioned that prostitutes in Spain are now being required to wear high-vis jackets as a safety precaution). Rather, the new collection reflects the life of a young Londoner in a refreshingly different way. Like any other major metropolitan city, the young creatives tend to congregate in the areas where the rent is cheap, and these areas quickly go from hubs of creativity to gentrification-crazed construction zones.

Thus, naturally, the standard builders uniform of high-vis neon jackets, slouchy trousers, and safety belts with reflective tape are encountered on an almost daily basis by any young East Londoner (literally can hear cranes helping construct a shiny, expensive new block of high rise apartments across the street as I write this). However, here these mundane marks of the working man (or woman!) have been brilliantly translated into glamorous jumpsuits and patchwork denim aprons that retain a minimalist color palette, occasionally punctuated by the relevant shade of fluorescent, “don’t-drop-that-steel-beam-on-me” orange.

Also noteworthy was the contextless, distinctly tumblr-like presence of a horse head on a gray sweatshirt paired with loud, heavily-sequined, loosely tailored trousers, as well as Ashish’s trademark comically cynical shirts with gems like “THE END IS NEAR” and “I’m having a shit day, thanks.”

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