Ashish Gupta is a Delhi-born British designer whose inventive fusion of sequins and not-so-obvious pop culture references have attracted the devoted lust of every London club kid worth their salt. In a time when American designers seem to be in a contest d'thirst for the attention and cache of THE YOUTH (cough; cough cough), Ashish is consistently effortless in making excellent clothing that is pulse-defining and also a little bit weird.
So while he showed a sequined Kimye sweatshirt (and a Miley one, and a 1D one, too) for his Spring 2015 show this week, he paired it with sequin graffiti jeans reminiscent of the ones you may have markered-up with the names of your fave pop stars in 6th grade, painting a not-so-serious picture of how great teen stan-dom can be. Ashish furthered that thought by evoking Kris Kross, boy-band of yore: he sent models down the runway in backwards sweatshirts and jeans, and spoofed on the Left Eye-style oversized overall by writing that shit XXLarge. Who would wear this, you ask? Hmmm, yessss: LONDON RAVE KIDS, bless one, bless all.
Ashish gets his audience, and his work reflects the true multiculturalism of that city—both through his designs and in his choice of runway models. For Spring 2014, which was maybe my favorite Ashish collection of all, he interpreted global bootleg culture (not unlike what MIA did with her Versace collabo around the same time, though with a clearer and more realized intent), showing sequined Coca-Cola tops and totes identical to the bodega bags copped 'round the world. Accordingly: he always, always casts an incredibly diverse roster of models, hiring more women and men of color than most every major runway show, again reflecting the real-life diversity of a vibrant city like London.
This time around, he cast black models exclusively. It wasn't so much a runway stunt as a quiet referendum on the constant, suffocating whiteness of the runways, despite all best efforts. His clothes, also, capture the cultures of global peoples of color not because he finds it "cool" or "trendy," but because he is a global person of color—it's his culture, too.
The first model who walked was a shirtless dude in a glorious tiered neckpiece and sequined rainbow sweatpants, showing how the designer likes to futz around with gender (and furthering his dedication to the #cozygirls and #cozyboys movement, ayo). The two most glorious moments, for me: the foil confetti hair extensions, pink-fluff boudoir shoes for day, and "HI HATER" t-shirts. (Is Maino's life philosophy ever not in style?). And, finally, the designer himself, who emerged in what appeared to be a pair of Nike Air Maxes, an "FML" t-shirt, and a kinda shit-eating grin. Ashish, my dude, do not ever change.
Images via Getty.