Ashish counters populism and post-Brexit angst with pretty pluralism
In the wake of Brexit and against an angsty political backdrop, the designer sent models down the runway with teared up eyes and melancholy expressions. It was his take on the post-Brexit blues — a climate that has given rise to increased social strife and hate crimes against minorities and people of color in the UK. “After 20 years of living in this country, I felt like ‘Oh, am I actually unwelcome here?’ — I just felt really awful about it,” he told VIVISXN, wearing a T-shirt with the word ‘IMMIGRANT‘ emblazoned across it. “It’s not just about black and white, it’s about the whole rainbow,” he said with reference to his ultra-commendable multicultural casting, which included bombshell Neelam Gill, a model of Indian ethnicity (we are crushing on her sooo hard!); Sri-Lankan born Suren Seneviratne, Colombian model Ricardo Dominguez and West Indian queer artist Richie Shazam. “I realize it’s just fashion, but I think it’s critical to not just have a limited conception of beauty,” Ashish remarked. “I think there’s such a big battle to be fought right now, because I feel like the whole world is turning so fucking right wing. It really frightens me, and I think that as artists and people who work in the creative industry, we all need to gather force and really fight back against that.”
Armed with love, beauty, Bollywood flare and ample diversity, Ashish‘s range was an all-out multicultural mash-up of slick sportswear, seventies disco styles and re-worked Indian gear. “This collection is quite mystical and romantic, and quite weird!” Ashish said of his sparkly saris, sequin-heavy organza shirts, gilded tunic dresses and ravishing ravikes. Styles were decorated with arm bands and ankle bracelets complete with jingling bells, blazing bling and Henna paste/body paint. Models wore visible nose rings and ritzy headgear (one even carried a slithering snake as he sashayed down the runway). For the press, Ashish referenced a 13th century poem from Rumi, a Persian poet and Islamic scholar who mused on materialism, carnal desire and sexuality. There was also live music from the blind British-Indian musician Baluji Shrivastav that made for a stunning and stimulating ambiance. Bravo, Ashish, for delivering a bang-up, multi-ethnic extravaganza! We love you!