“I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,”
“When lovers moan,
they’re telling our story.”
Dear Shaded Viewers and Diane,
Our cue to Ashish’s show last night was Like this, a 13th century poem by Rumi – for spring, Gupta harks back to his native India, to weave a tale of bliss and lust. Under a canopy of intertwined fairy lights blinking down at the sequinned garments below, with a live performance by Baluji Shrivastav playing the sitar in the background. There are some slightly corny touches, wilfully so, particularly in the styling – like a young man wearing a loose see-through organza shirt and glittery jeans, both in bloom with rose embroideries, carrying himself a bunch of red roses, each wrapped in its plastic own sheet – a whiff of Bollywood romance. But the spiritual side is strong, too: some models wear yellow or blue face paint, like goddess Kali, long bejewelled veils and trains. They’re all barefoot, and one enchanter in a beaded gold dress, perched just on the one shoulder and opposite hip, walks in with a real snake coiled around his neck. The best looks are those were the opposites met, like a slip dress, obliquely ruffled, over a pair of metallic track bottoms, complete with the three lines along the leg. Or the very first one, worn by Neelam Gill, a spangly red tee spelling out LOVE & DEVOTION over a full skirt embroidered all-over with botanical swirls in silver thread. A similar skirt, in pink, we see on a male model, topped with a pale pastel shirt adorned with shiny paisley arabesques. Ashish, like love, cares nothing for gender. The overlay of jewellery throughout the collection has a surprisingly balancing effect: rather than muses of unattainable status, the models could be children playing dress up in a treasure trove. Fairy tale princesses and fairy tale princes, in bubblegum gowns and rubies – tiaras and anklets, nose rings and drop earrings, bejewelled braids and gold-painted nails.
All my best,