For Spring/Summer 14, Ashish’s collection, based on walking to the local shop the morning after the night before, saw models holding sequin supermarket carrier bags emblazoned cheekily with the words “Disco” or “S&M”. If one piece could possibly encapsulate a brand, those bags are Ashish: witty, playful, full of contradictions and mashed-up cultural references with a dark, knowing undercurrent and (almost) always covered in sequins.
The man himself is not as out-there as his designs would suggest. Humble and eternally self-deprecating, Ashish Gupta, the son of two doctors, was born and raised in Delhi, and moved to London when he was 21 to study fashion. After completing his Master’s at Central Saint Martins, a spot of bad luck in Paris — the infamous incident where his whole portfolio was stolen in Gare du Nord — led him to return to London to start his own label, while a more fortuitous brush with fate saw Browns Focus place their first order in 2001, his designs having been spotted on a friend.
Ashish’s single-minded vision and lack of pretension, along with the unbelievable, almost couture-level of craftsmanship that goes into each piece, has won him high-profile fans, from Debbie Harry to Rihanna. He has had ten successful collaborations with Topshop and established a loyal international customer base, with stockists in Europe, the US, Russia, the Middle East and Asia.
With his SS16 collection Ashish will mark ten years of showing at London Fashion Week, celebrating this with a “Fashion in Motion” event at the V&A to showcase his archive. It’s a rare feat, and even more unusual for someone who tends to shy away from the limelight. For all his love of celebrity and pop culture, he has no desire to be part of it, designing instead in the pursuit of happiness.