A Designer ‘Obsessed with Hollywood’
By Qianna Smith
On a drizzly day on High Holborn Street in London, Ashish Gupta enters into a
packed room of journalists, armed with garment bags filled with goodies from
his fall 2010 and spring 2011 collections. The room is anxious to see what all
the hype is about.
Seeing his cool demeanor and outfit, an understated gray jumper, slacks and
Nikes, it is hard to imagine that this Delhi-born designer has a love affair with
sequins and over-the-top glam. Yet, his approachable personal style works
brilliantly to balance his ‘more-is-more’ design philosophy. There’s only room
for one spotlight and it's shining directly on Gupta’s line, Ashish, that debuted in
London in 2001 after the collection was scooped up by a buyer from famed
Mayfair boutique Browns Focus.
Fast forward nine years later, Gupta is enjoying tremendous international
commercial success with his colorful and often campy designs carried by
Net-a-porter.com, Henri Bendel’s in New York and Tigerlilly in Dubai. He has
built an empire rooted around one key element, sequin. There’s Hervé Léger
and the bandage dress, Diane Von Furstenberg and the wrap dress, and now
there’s Gupta and his sequins.
If you see the Hollywood Hills landmark sign
adorned in sequin, we know who did it.
Far from a gimmick, Gupta’s shimmering embellishments are a labor of love. Each garment is hand sewn by 12 to 16 dressmakers
at his atelier in India. At a quick glance, it is hard to recognize that sequins make up the core foundation of each piece, partly
because of the superior craftsmanship. “I dress loads of pop stars, and sequins look really good on stage. They reflect light and
add another dimension of color,” says Gupta, who has described his designs as sexy with a sense of humor. The New Generation
award-winner has a major celebrity fan base that includes the likes of rapper MIA, pop star Paloma Faith, model Elizabeth Jagger
and actress Mena Suvari. “I am obsessed with Hollywood. I love American pop culture,” he says with a boyish smile.
You can blame Gupta’s mother for his obsession with Hollywood. At the age of 10, he began ripping out pages from her copies of
American Vogue and fantasizing about life in America. “Growing up in India, it was a dream to kind of go to America, it was a
fantasy,” shares the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design graduate. Given his appreciation for the work of designer Bob
Mackie and old Hollywood costume design of the 80s, there’s no wonder why sequin is a keystone of Gupta’s aesthetic. “I think my
use of sequin is more American or Western than what you would find in traditional Indian clothing,” says Gupta, whose designs only
incorporate Indian elements such as bright colors and prints.
With the versatility of sequin, Ashish, as a line, has managed to stay on the forefront of fashion. “I don’t look at trends ever. Any that
arise within the collection are a course of nature,” confirms the Top Shop endorsed designer. The attraction to sequin, explains
Gupta, derives from a fascination of, “taking something really ordinary or traditional and twisting it and making it new.” Just like new
Hollywood stars emerge on the red carpet each year, there will always be a woman who falls in love with the glitz and the glam that
sequins represent. And, Gupta will be ready to dress her.
|"I don’t look at trends ever. Any trends
that arise within the collection are a
course of nature."- Ashish Gupta