I remembered when I entered college, there was no one else wearing the same uniform as I was because most of my secondary school mates went to another college instead. While everything was new and exciting, being seventeen and being alone was awkward and uncomfortable. So when I accidentally bump into an ex-school mate in the canteen, there was an immediate connection.
It doesn’t only apply to going to a new school, sometimes traveling alone or being posted overseas for a job position, there’s always a sense of ease and comfort when you encounter something or someone familiar as you assimilate in the new environment.
That was how I felt when Ashley Isham’s name popped up amongst all the designers showcasing their Spring/Summer 2010 collections in the London Fashion Week 2009. It was such a breath of fresh, homely air. He’s the only Singaporean designer who has made it to the international fashion scene.
This is fact, not flattery designed to sell.
With Anna Wintour making her appearance for London Fashion Week, Ashley is a big deal and as Singaporeans, we should be supportive and proud of his work.
It must be exciting being a designer with your own runway show. You get to audition the models, pick the music, the choreographer, decide on the hair and make-up and have all your designs on paper spring to life on the runway, right?
That’s romanticising fashion week.
Ashley who is currently on his way to Paris to prepare for Paris Fashion Week is hardly breezing through the cities, clothes in one hand, champagne in the other. He will be showcasing on the same platform as big-wig designers for major brands like Burberry and the like. Now that must be stressful. Having said that, his current Spring/Summer 2010 collection is worth killing some brain cells over. He has drawn from an ancient culture, then combined with his draping methods, created modern dresses that are elegant and romantic through the ages. Check out my favourites:
I think designers must always be inebriated, either that, or they have activated some part of their brain that the rest of us leaves untouched. How else are they able to find inspiration for the clothes they design one season after another?
Ashley said his current collection was inspired by the Ottoman Empire, which is the longest empire that at the height of its power (16th–17th century), spanned three continents. I did a bit of Googling and found that women in those times were covered up but still allowed the natural curves of their body to show. The clothes were colourful and often layered on. The women had elaborate hair adornments and didn’t seem to wear much jewellery, most of it were embellished on the clothing.
These tiny cluster pearl embellishments that adorn Ashley Isham's dresses were inspired by the Ottoman Empire.
He also drew inspiration from the tiles of the famous Blue Mosque.
I've never been to Turkey, but seeing how magnificient the Blue Mosque is, I wish I could see it for myself! It's gorgeous!
The tiles from the Blue Mosque. I love the shades of blue, it reminds me of a Mediterranean holiday!
I didn’t know if women back in those days put on make-up but Ashley told me that eyes are very important for an Ottoman woman. Actually, I think not just to Ottoman women but women in general. I agree that our eyes are the windows through our souls so if there’s any part of our face that needs make-up the most, I would say the eyes.
There is a Middle Eastern mystique with the particular shade of gold eyeshadow used that is not over-the-top, and complements his outfits very well.
Ashley worked with Sharon Dowsett, the head of Chanel make-up, to create the gilded eye for his Spring/Summer 2010 collection.