The Glitterati

Why the recession calls for the power of sequins by Jessica Whyte, MA Fashion Journalism LCF

New Delhi-born Ashish Gupta and his sequinned creations have been causing quite a stir in the fashion industry. His collections, which have been showcased at London Fashion Week for the past five years, have attracted celebrity fans such as Beyoncé Knowles and Kylie Minogue. Ashish’s success becomes even more intriguing when one considers that he has been up against stiff competition.

Ralph Lauren, in his spring/summer collection for 2009, was one of the first designers to hop on the sequin bandwagon with his safari-inspired gold sequinned harem pants. Nicholas Ghesquière for Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen quickly followed suit with a more futuristic take on sequins, while Giorgio Armani and Jean Paul Gaultier featured them in a more traditional style. For Ashish however, it isn’t a case of merely including sequins in his designs; they are an integral part of his work, vision and personality. It has been his full throttle, pedal-to-the medal approach to fashion that has the world sit up and take notice.

Taking his sequinned creations at face value, it could be argued that their success lies in society’s craving for escapism. There is certainly no denying that escapism is something that both society and Ashish Gupta have in common. “I like the darkness in things,” he says, “and I feel that my clothes are definitely a form of escapism from the darker side of life.”  But is using fashion as an escape mechanism from the current economic climate the only explanation for this global obsession with all things that sparkle? There is also perhaps a feeling amongst fashion enthusiasts to celebrate the creativity and spirit of the industry as opposed to creatively closing up shop.  According to Ashish, “a recession feels like a good time to celebrate the fun of fashion.”

All fun and games aside, the reality is that society is still combating a global recession. It would be wrong to simply categorise the entire world to be craving shiny and glitzy outfits simply because they are in denial. On the contrary, sequin-seekers are looking beyond the sequin’s associations with glitz and glamour to something more concrete. Sequins today have evolved past being a symbol for fun and frolics, to becoming akin to armour. By their very nature, sequins deflect and reflect when brought into contact with light. They give movement to garments as well as multiple dimensions. Wearing a sequinned outfit or carrying a sequinned accessory therefore makes a statement and a strong one at that. And so rather then being swept away by the uncertainties of the future, women are empowering themselves with this fashionable form of armour to tackle the recession head on. 

The success of Ashish’s recent collaboration with Nike further cements this attitude of using fashion to overcome the psychological and emotional obstacles. In his spring/summer 2010 runway collection, he featured a number of outfits used in his collaboration with the sportswear company. The most thought provoking was undoubtedly a full length sequinned t-shirt with the iconic Nike phrase ‘Just Do It’ dripping in sequins. Considering how his latest collection sold out from Selfridges in just three days, it seems that society is doing just that. 

Image: Ashish SS10
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