(Okay, this is extremely late to be actual commentary on Fashion Week and it doesn’t actually focus on a brand so much one collection. But damn if it isn’t an amazing collection.)
I’ve been sleeping on Ashish for a while now, and that’s on me. For the past couple years I’ve oohed and aahed over pictures of their runway shows without ever actually putting together that they were all by the same designer, Ashish Gupta. And that’s a tragedy, because Ashish Gupta’s clothing is the stuff that dreams are made of. Not my dreams, obviously, which are horrifying surrealist nightmares closer to a David Lynch movie crossed with that one scene in A Clockwork Orange- but someone’s dreams. Someone who’s better at communicating with their therapist and also is just probably nicer. His last collection was quite possibly the closest I’ve ever been to truly experiencing divinity. I might have cried a little as I pored over it. Let me set the scene;
I was depressed, which is hardly new. A cheeto demon was the President of the United States and I wondered if all the speeches about America being a place of freedom, love and hope were actually just meaningless drivel. Steve Bannon’s stupid frog-like Nazi face haunted my waking hours. I’d just turned 17, but I was like 87% sure I was straight up having my midlife crisis. I wondered if I should read some Howard Zinn.
Fashion Week was going on- New York, though my keen eye cannot tell any Fashion Weeks apart- but I could make myself be too interested. There were plenty of political moments, including Raf Simons continuing to be awesome. But I felt too hollow to truly pay much attention. Fall collections can be brooding and romantic, but they can also be kind of lifeless. I eagerly await the day that the fashion industry as a whole accepts the fact that the seasons you’re designing for truly means nothing. Catch me on the runway for winter in a duct tape bikini and assless chaps. Let’s see what Instyle makes of that.
This is all to say that I was in the dumps. I was melancholy, whiny, and everything else we darn millennials are supposed to be. I could practically feel some writer for the Wall Street Journal or New Yorker shedding tears of joy at the visual of me laying in bed in sweatpants and flannels, watching John Hughes movies and crying about how much I don’t like them. It was the stuff think-pieces are made of. Amidst this, my Tumblr feed provided salvation for, like, literally the first time ever.
The Ashish 2017 Fall collection represents to be everything we need to become when the world is like this. It’s bright and shiny, but not vapid. It’s covered in sequins and rainbows and basic human decency. It’s the kind of thing I need to see more of, preferably in a store walking distance from my house. The collection is like the costumes to the musical that they’ll one day make about these awful goddamned years, what the chorus will wear as they dance in and remind us that the vast majority of people aren’t horrible. I’ve seen a lot written about how fashion is art- and I completely agree- but less written about how it’s a place for catharsis. The fashion world is messed up beyond belief and if I ever meet Anna Wintour you know I’m going to aggressively be chubby at her. But the fashion industry is also one where someone can decorate a runway like the yellow brick road and paint glittery luchador masks on models. Much like the story it references, the collection whisks me over the rainbow into a colorful world that only highlights the beautiful parts of our own. Unlike the movie, when you return back to Kansas it’s not acceptance you feel but a desire to bring that world to us.
It’s hard to describe the collection, just because there’s no better way to experience it than just looking. The words “and then a guy who wouldn’t look out of place in a motorcycle gay bar in the 70’s walked down the runway wearing a sequined shirt that says DON’T BE BLUE, BE GAY and is covered in leather daddy ducklings” will never have the same noble beauty as staring at it until your eyeballs rot and fall out of your head. My personal favorites of the collection include a shirt that reads as often as possible, be gentle and kind that brings to mind some of Jenny Holzer’s work, something that resembles a bejewelled sweater-vest saying NASTY WOMAN, and yet another shirt that says MORE GLITTER LESS TWITTER. They aren’t clothes for a protest, because clothes for a protest are practical and warm. But they are clothes to remind you of what the world could be.
We don’t live in the gay utopian Oz that this collection originates from. The world seems to provide new horrors every day and it can feel like we’re all barely keeping our heads above water. But there are things worth fighting for- this world is worth fighting for. It’s messed up and it needs some work but dear god, it’s our world and we’re not going to let some white supremacists fuck it up any more.
Price Range: These are literal ready to wear couture. I’m pretty sure no one except celebrities can afford it.
Available: See above.
Vibe: One time I burst into tears on a street corner and a drag queen told me everything was going to be alright. This collection is the visual equivalent.