Ashish Gupta, the Delhi-born British designer whose taste for sequins has defined both his runways and the ever-increasing sparkliness of pop stars and style mavens, is perpetually one of the most interesting runways at London Fashion Week.
On Monday night, he premiered his latest breathtaking vision: “Bollywood Bloodbath,” a collection that situated elaborately embellished saris and salwar as 2 a.m. clubwear, and sent models down the runway painted like Hindu gods and goddesses (Kali? Garuda? Someone send me the show notes), blown out in technicolor like they were straight from episodes of Ramayan—or a 1990s raver video.
Soundtracked with live sitar beneath a sparkling-light skyway, the show began with soon-to-be-supermodel Neelam Gill, adorned in a crown and crimson “Love and Devotion” t-shirt. And while it may have been a bloodbath, it also seemed to be inspired by the vibrant, formal beauty of Indian weddings and perhaps Indonesian influences as well, with flower garlands draping from the models’ braids and repeated in the motifs of his patterns.
Ashish emerged at show’s close wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “IMMIGRANT,” and it was both literal and symbolic of the way this collection navigated sensibilities, almost a living embodiment of internet culture-jamming; he hewed to tradition in silhouette, color and inference, but also wove in his ever-present, ever-current street style impulses. An embroidered kurta in sweatshirt fleece; salwar kameez as super-shiny, wide-legged disco pant or, more cheekily, a silver tracksuit; choli tops in luxurious, nearly incandescent gold. He sent out the model Richie Shazam as these multiplicities exemplar—a queer, multi-gender, first-generation West Indian New Yorker who’s heavy in the nightlife world—wearing a gilded one-shoulder gown and carrying a python, as the Hindu god Shiva. And for the final walk, the models emerged to Nomad’s 1991 house smash “Devotion,” both circling back to reference Gill’s sequined t-shirt and paying homage to Ashish’s own spirit in the UK club.