Ashish: Fall in Love and Be More Tender
William Morris Gallery is delighted to present Ashish: Fall in Love and Be More Tender, the first major survey exhibition of fashion designer Ashish Gupta. It will showcase over 60 designs, offering an unprecedented overview of Ashish’s subversive and playful practice.
Originally trained in fine art, Ashish studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins, London, founding his eponymous label in 2001. He has established a reputation for high-glamour outfits designed in his studio in East London and then hand-made by skilled artisans at his small workshop in Delhi.
Ashish’s practice includes a broad range of cultural and design references, embracing both American and European fashion histories and indigenous textile traditions from across the world. Ashish’s designs often challenge preconceptions of materials and techniques, interrogating the construction of cultural identities and the ways in which clothes send signals about their wearer.
In recent years Ashish’s work has engaged more explicitly with ideas around global exchange and the complex cultural relationships between India and Britain. In both the clothes themselves and how they are presented within his photographic campaigns and fashion presentations, key South Asian reference points are increasingly pronounced and celebrated. Ashish’s signature use of colour reflects his belief in the ability of clothing to bring joy to its wearers and create a space in which different identities become unashamedly, luminescently visible.
Ashish’s use of fashion as a site for social and political engagement will be highlighted through examples of some of the politicised slogans for which the designer is best known. These will include designs emblazoned with ‘MORE GLITTER LESS TWITTER’ devised in response to the election of President Trump 2016 and a new version of his celebrated ‘IMMIGRANT’ t-shirt.
Ashish is a pioneering voice within the creative industries for his long-term commitment to inclusion and equitable representation. The exhibition will also spotlight Ashish’s Autumn Winter 2017 collection ‘The Yellow Brick Road’. Inspired by The Wizard of Oz (1939), a film that holds an iconic place within Queer culture. The season drew on an interpretation of the film by the Indian-born writer Salman Rushdie which interprets the story as an exploration of migration and an individual’s ability to determine how they identify ‘home’.
Like William Morris, traditional handcraft skills and techniques are at the heart of Ashish’s design and the context of the William Morris Gallery allows Ashish’s work to be considered within a dialogue of artisanship, adornment and thoughtful production processes. Each individual sequin is hand sewn on an embroidery frame by highly skilled artisans at Ashish’s workshop in Delhi – a process which can take anywhere from a few days to over a week depending on the piece.
The exhibition will feature a major new commission by the Mumbai-based photographer and film-maker Ashish Shah (b. Dehradun, 1984). Working within a genre which has limited precedent other than the aesthetic conventions and expectations imported and emulated from European and American fashion documentation, Shah is part of an exciting generation of photographers creating a new language of image-making. Shot on location in India and London; Shah’s film and photography commission will explore the intricacy of global movement and the ways in which Ashish’s garments navigate the complex cultural relationships between India and the West. The new commission will also contextualise Ashish’s work from a decolonising perspective, offering a counterpoint to the Western gaze that dominates much fashion documentation and photography.
Ashish: Fall in Love and Be More Tender is co-curated by Roisin Inglesby and Joe Scotland
Ashish Shah’s commission is supported by the Art Fund
The exhibition is kindly supported by the Lizzie & Jonathan Tisch Foundation
Ashish Gupta (b. Delhi, 1973) is a celebrated voice in international fashion. He has won the prestigious NEWGEN award three times and has been included in major exhibitions and presentations at The Victoria & Albert Museum, London and The Metropolitan Museum, New York. Ashish’s designs have been worn by global icons including Beyonce, Debbie Harry, Hunter Schafer, Rihanna, Charli XCX and Taylor Swift.