“I want it to be an absolute blast of sex-positive, body-positive, joyful celebration—of everyone. That was the brief, really. I was like, ‘Don’t be shy, enjoy it. Feel the joy, feel the moment.’” So said Ashish of his preshow pep talk before his first runway run out in four long, barren Ashish-less years. The models, drawn from a mix of agencies and open casting, nailed that brief to help deliver a show that was among the most fun and uplifting of this London season.
“Everybody Is a Star” read the lettering on the wall of the Nobu Hotel’s ballroom. Alongside it was a large crescent-moon prop, upon which perched a beautiful Ashish night nymph in long, dark, sparkling robes. Below her in a swan-headboard bed slept a handsome mustached man, who occasionally tossed and turned, allowing showgoers to glimpse his glinting scanty sleepwear.
The first model prowled out in the collection’s namesake piece, a fluid chiffon gown embedded with glass-bead embroidery. Jem Stevens, toting a pair of pineapples in Look 4, wore a dress that combined the designer’s core sequins with a liquid-knit technique. Look 6’s couple were clad in collage pieces assembled by Ashish from swatches and scraps his team in India produced during the development of this collection, crafted similarly to the quote-unquote jeans worn by Herbie Mensah in Look 13. “No-one Likes Us” and “And We Don’t Care” read the back of the two sequined bikers worn by the pair in Look 19.
In both Look 9’s florals and Look 30’s tiger stripe, Michele Ronson delivered a powerful and Pat Cleveland–esque interpretative walk. First-time model Rittika, who walked into Ashish’s open casting just minutes after he’d declared his hope of finding an Indian beauty to wear the show’s closing sari, was everything he’d manifested. Look 32’s model remained anonymous in his crochet sequined balaclava and tiger-stripe jockstrap. Linder Sterling, the first artist to wear a meat dress and Ashish’s recent collaborator, both modeled (floral pajamas) and helped propel the thought process behind the designer’s dream sequin sequence. With that be-yourself blessing from the designer, the models were free to let their personalities shine; Ashish’s glinting kaleidoscope craft amplified them still further. This was a show for everyone.