Ashish Gupta reported that this collection was partially inspired by his memories of waiting, back in his Central Saint Martins days, to show his Indian passport to the British border officers at immigration. He said: “There were always some fabulously dressed people in the immigration queue. I remember seeing couples who were coming on their honeymoon. And the brides would be very dressed up, with hair and makeup, and that wardrobe that is such a fascinating mix of East and West: maybe a big winter coat over a very ornate sari. Or a salwar pant beneath a cardigan.”
Ironically enough this collection had its own immigration moment: French customs insisted on inspecting every piece on its way back from Ashish’s Paris showroom (more quote-unquote frictionless post-Brexit reality). And by visualizing that no-man’s-land point of transition between his birth culture and his British culture, Ashish tapped once again into the dynamic that runs so deeply in his work.
That bicultural mixture of codes was expressed deeply Ashish-ly by contrasting pieces from both sides made from a trove of vintage saris, beautifully ornate, with other pieces fashioned in his own sequin-strewn dialect. Comfort pieces originating from Selbu, Norway—Nordic snowflake knits, pajama suits, and robes—were given his proprietarily unmistakable twinkling zhuzh. Sequins were also placed to gently recontextualize madras check in a tartan context on supercool basketball shorts and a finely draped cowl-neck backless top. The upcycled saris looked especially wonderful in slouchy bombers with customized multicolored ribbed cuffs.
The uptown inspiration of the bouclé-ish check jacket-and-midi-dress look, plus its cousins, was self-evident. Set in sequin rather than wool, Ashish’s intervention gave the stalwart Parisian ensemble an anti-bourgeois, progressive twist. Sequin-defined leopard-print pieces and grungy knit-seeming stripes inserted more signifying layers into a mix that was blended with great precision and craft until all apparent difference was transformed into a fresh manifestation of border-transcending worn harmony.