Friday 26th March

| BY Paul Toner

Ashish: Ready-to-Wear AW21

During the pandemic, many of Ashish’s loyal clientele would’ve turned to their beloved sequinned frocks by the designer to seek comfort in the idea of – one day – being able to dress up again. Though, it goes without saying that the pandemic has proven to be one gargantuan shit fest (you can’t polish a turd, after all), and no matter the sequin or sparkle, the London-based designer can’t deny how difficult the UK’s third lockdown has been on his brand.

Still unable to travel back to India to be with his factory in New Dehli, with this collection, Ashish had to learn to embrace restrictions. “I think that there’s something so lovely about things being slightly lost in translation,” proclaims the designer over Zoom. “Often you end up with something new that you never imagined.”

Whilst last season he found comfort in the rigidness of Touch ‘n’ Tuck tapestries, this time around, Ashish’s tipple to getting through lockdown was spontaneity. He ended up bulk buying a load of marker pens online, jaggedly sketching stripes and argyle prints which were then sent to his team across the world to be made into colonies of paillettes.

“There was such a great freedom where the pieces almost end up looking like fuzzy knitwear,” he says, pointing out that he wanted luxurious pyjama sets and going out-out dresses to appear to be made of mohair which is sprinkled with technicoloured glitter. Hues are able to blend into one another in accidental gradients thanks to Ashish’s original sketches, whether that’s on pseudo-tye-dye tops, or multi-coloured, glass-beaded frocks (worn with matching wigs courtesy of Sam McKnight).

The sheer unapologetic hedonism of it all is a testament to Ashish and his team sticking to their guns. “The pandemic has taught me you need to be strong and believe in what you’re doing,” he says. “I knew in the middle of [the pandemic] I wasn’t going to start doing tracksuits, it wouldn’t be authentic.” Though if he did decide to do so, you’ve gotta admit, they’d be pretty fab.

Photography by Will Sanders.