ASHI’S WARRIOR PRINCESS
Saudi designer Mohammed Ashi of Ashi Studio presented a breathtaking Spring/Summer 2016 collection of exceptionally crafted cocktail dresses and evening gowns that had all the hallmarks of his signature style: graceful architectural constructions and intricately detailed embellishments.
Ashi, interned with Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and worked for Elie Saab for two and a half years, set up his own label in 2007. His designs are a classic updates of historic grand couture. Ashi’s specialities include hand woven embroideries, sharp-cut shapes and flattering lines. His inspirations are fairy tales.
shi shies away from bright colors, preferring cream and off whites with tone-on-tone embroideries to showcase his atelier’s craftsmanship and sharp tailoring. For his latest collection, the designer dreamed up a sad romantic story of a princess who, becomes a warrior to be closer to the prince she loves, kills herself upon learning that he will never return from the war.
“This translated into what you see here,” he says, pointing to the line’s exaggerated tulip skirts and richly brocaded boleros that looked to offer protection, with intricate textured embroideries of lions that he first saw on a shield in a museum in Sweden. Floral garlands bloom amongst layers of fabric, wrapped around and shielding the body.
“I consider myself more of an artist than a couturier,” the designer muses.
Perhaps more of an architect, as well. Ashi’s admiration for Zaha Hadid’s unusual building designs was evident in elements like the wave-like ruffles, which incorporate tulles and feathers to great effect. “My work is very sculptural,” he says. “I drape more than I sketch. I like to accentuate certain parts of the body, pushing up here and there to create an element of surprise. By playing with the structure I can create the illusion of something new that grabs attention.”
Adding to the structural effect was Ashi’s use of corseting. A mix of Victorian and baroque, with a modern twist, the collection used boning to support the silhouettes, hiding it with barely-there tulles that create a light and airy effect. The fabric was covered in some places by elaborate metal-thread needlework, in others by micro-pearls with raffia ribbons, or by tiny laser-cut suede sequins, although the designer keeps their use to a minimum, he says, because he feels they can distract from the design.
Women are becoming more independent each day and by creating the ‘Warrior Princess Collection’ Ashi is telling every woman they do not have to wait for their prince in shining armor anymore to survive. “This wasn’t about versatile wardrobes or casual playful attired anymore, this collection had to be driven by curvaceous cuts, strong corsets, and intricate embroideries to bring life to my designs, to my tale”, he went on to explain.