The Hippodrome is the current residence of the circus spectacular Le Clique. Now, as people meander in and take their seats for the coming London Fashion Week catwalk show, one of the troupe takes to the stage. A single hoop descends from the ceiling and in steps the performer, dressed only in a white leotard. She sets the circle spinning and then proceeds to twist and turn within its circumference, curving herself and spinning around with effortless grace and poise. As the room finally fills, she descends and limbers out.
For a performance, it has been quite majestic. For a preparation for the forthcoming collection by Ashish, it almost borders on the irresponsible as the plain white custom and the elegance of the performance are completely at odds with the brightly coloured clothes on the models that then start to come out almost immediately. It is like being exposed to a Kandinsky picture after a lifetime of looking at nothing but beige. Accompanied with live music by VV Brown, the up and coming pop/soul singer, the catwalk is filled with continuous waves of garish colour and outlandish design.
Ashish says that the muse for his clothes is ‘the midnight flit’, a devil may care woman who is at home in a number of different environments and with any sort of company ranging from vagabonds to aristocracy. This defiance of conventions in any shape or form certainly comes across in the outfits he has put together. A continuing theme of London Fashion Week seems to be animal prints of various kinds and the collection does not shy away including leopard print on bright yellow and orange trousers. These might work well if complemented with something equally lavish on top but when combined with bobbled jumpers that you might expect to be given by elderly relatives at Christmas, the effect is brilliantly warped and unexpectedly beguiling.
The Eighties style gaudiness continues with the dresses. There is nothing subtle or restrained about the garments with the names of various cities emblazoned on the fabric. The collection almost seems to be a parody of the worst excesses of the fashion world if it was not presented in such a startling and unashamed way. Just when you think there could be nothing more that could top the ridiculous outfits, in struts a model pulling off a silver foil jacket that is crowned with a plant pot on top. Yet once you get past the unorthodox nature of the get-up, one has to admire the panache and the single-mindedness of it all. Whatever one might think about the quality of the clothes and how the outfits have been put together, it certainly shows a definitive sense of style and creation.
The band finish playing after seven songs and on comes Ashish to take in the applause, my thoughts turn to what he could possibly be wearing. Will it be something as outlandish as what he covered his models in? Or will it be something quite restrained? When he finally makes his entrance, I find that I have been wrong-footed once again. It is a sweater and tracksuit combo with skeleton bones covering the entirety of the outfit. While his clothes may not be comprehensible, he certainly knows how to draw attention.