This is an education in itself – as it happens, with Hamish Bowles’ “Indian Fashion” exhibition and the Dior show in Mumbai. “There used to be this snobbery, sort of looking down [about Indian production],” Gupta observed. In fact, the country exports an estimated £17 worth of embroidery to the world each year. “It’s funny how fashion is moving so fast in this right now.”
Get a little closer and you can see how the designer has used traditional Indian techniques like mirror embroidery or the precious gold thread zardozi craft and how he subtly twists the power of multi-coloured sequins His political satire, liberationist commentary. These included ripped jeans covered in blue sequins, and the models carried replica British supermarket plastic tote bags. One has a very familiar high street sign that reads S&M upside down. Inside was a copy of The Sun tabloid with the headline “Rishi in School Sexism”.
‘Rishi’ refers to Rishi Sunak, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, whose parents are of Indian descent. “Gender Warfare” is the violent politicization of trans rights that is currently underway. “That’s true,” Gupta said. “That title came on the day our show opened.”
The impact of his show is delightful, full of laughter, wonder and seriousness. This is Ashish, who has celebrated fair representation and inspiring goodwill in every way since 2001.
Fall In Love And Be More Tender, curated by Roisin Inglesby and Joe Scotland, at William Morris Gallery, London E 4PP. Free admission.