Brands and designers throw around the ‘stay-at-home-glam’ term for a year now, but most of the time it just feels forced and like a desperate attempt to sell eveningwear. However in case of Ashish‘ autumn-winter 2021, this notion of glamour in times of global pandemy is honest and at last makes sense. Ashish Gupta has the solution to fashion’s sweatpant-mania: simply offer garments that enable the consolatory comfort that we’ve grown fond of in isolation, combined with the communal joyfulness we’re aching to emanate. This collection fabulously demonstrates that comfort and joy can be mutually inclusive and mutually enhancing. When he was a student at Central Saint Martins, Gupta said he picked up this excellent line: “An evening gown should feel as comfortable as a T-shirt, and a T-shirt should feel as special as an evening gown.” And while he can’t recall where the line came from, he explained, “I’ve always carried it with me. So I always design my clothes to not be physically restrictive in any way. Even things that look body-con are cut on the bias and are super soft. Everything has pockets and zips, and there is never any corsetry; I think you should wear clothes you can slip out of very quickly and easily.” Shot in glamorous Finchley here in London, and impressively intricate to consider on the rail in Gupta’s house, this specific collection also seemed deeply easy to quickly get into, both as wearer and watcher. Gupta said the formula of its creation was to consider patterns and visible textures that have, through their history, the power to generate positive and comforting associations – “like when I think of tie-dye, I always think of beaches and holidays” – and then go to town on them via the sequin sequencer. The joyful result is the product of intense labor: a tie-dye long sleeve, for instance, took two Ashish employees two weeks to embroider by hand, once the exact order of sequins had been drawn and sorted. This collection also ran riotous gamut across the spectrum of so-called formalwear and so-called casualwear, two other categories whose perceived opposition seems increasingly anachronistic and redundant. Happily enhanced by these fantastic Sam McKnight wigs, this was a collection in which every piece of every look was made to enable joy and comfort in most conceivable circumstances. If these ’20s really are going to roar, Ashish is bringing the noise.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.