Sequins are Ashish Gupta’s bread and butter. Dazzling embellishment is central to every collection he creates, and his unique way with sparkle has earned him the nickname “king of sequins” among his fashion contemporaries.
Following a string of successful partnerships with Matchesfashion.com, the designer has joined forces with the e-tailer once again on a capsule of happy-making party staples, launching 8 November, scattered with shimmering sequins and embellishments. “I love party dresses,” Ashish says over Zoom, smiling. “It seems like a good time to do something, we need more joy and sparkle.”
How does it feel to make a fully-fledged return to party mode at this point? “I don’t think I ever left,” confesses the designer, who continued to create colourful, dancefloor-ready looks during lockdown – albeit at a slower pace. (See his bold spring/summer 2021 collection, unveiled in October 2020.) “I feel like people really want to dress up again. People want to go out and have fun.”
Ashish’s own archive was the starting point for the new collection. He pulled his favourite things from past seasons and reimagined them in ways that felt fresh. “It’s nice to revisit things that you feel you want to explore or do something new with,” he explains.
A gleaming floral jacket, which he holds up to the camera, is a prime example of this approach. The intricate embroidery on the jacket was based on a pattern that he developed during an internship nearly three decades ago, when he was just 16. Serendipitously, four or five years ago, he came across one of the pieces he designed when he was first starting out at a vintage shop, and returned to his studio to create a “2.0 version”, strewn with the same flowers. “It really ties back to the idea of making things feel timeless,” he says.
Manglien S Gangte, with whom Ashish connected on Instagram “by chance”, brings the collection to life in a series of portraits, shot in North East India. Manglien recruited his friends – Angela, “a dreamer who longs for adventure”, Patricia, a book lover, Biak Lun, a sociology student, and Joel, a social worker who working to destigmatise HIV and AIDS in the community – to model the pieces. The results are “the complete opposite” of slick fashion imagery, Ashish remarks. Manglien’s otherworldly aesthetic lent itself perfectly to capturing the magical party capsule in an artistic light – something Ashish was determined to achieve this time round
Fashion with longevity has become a priority for Ashish. In an interview with British Vogue in 2020, he mused: “There is a strong argument for buying fewer, but better clothes which are timeless.” With that in mind, each piece in his new capsule is one of a kind – made completely by hand by his dedicated team in India, in a process he describes as “a labour of love”. The designer wanted every piece to feel like an investment that customers can “come back to again and again and treasure”.