At the recently concluded Spring-Summer 2017 edition of the Amazon India Fashion Week in Delhi, at the end of the Ashima-Leena show, it was Leena Singh alone who took the bow. It signalled the silent exit of her design partner of more than two decades — Ashima Singh. It hasn’t been a bitter ending for either — while Leena has retained the rights to the original name and showcased the current collection under the same, Ashima has debuted her eponymous label and has already launched her first collection. Ashima, who graduated from the National Institute of Fashion Technology in Delhi in 1990, was incidentally a year senior to designers JJ Valaya and Manish Arora. At Ashima-Leena, she spearheaded design and production.
On why she chose to branch out with her own label after so many years, Ashima says, “We had creative differences and as people, wanted to grow in different directions. The body of work exists in the universe and people do know about it. I now have to take on different multitasking avatars to manage everything. That poses a different kind of challenge. Once that’s done, there will be a sense of achievement and accomplishment.”
Speaking about her label, Ashima says her focus will be designing. “My strength has always been, and will be, designing. Creativity will take a different direction as I am going to explore something beyond what Ashima-Leena has done in the past. Ashima-Leena is essentially a couture brand working with Mughal-focused or Mughal-inspired garments. My foray would be into Central Asian influences — even Mongolian, Indonesian or the Orient. The basic concept would be to see how all these cultures mingle together. I will be using prints and embellishments. It will have a very luxe-Bohemian feel,” explains Ashima.
The designer is quick to point out that she won’t be focusing only on pret. “I am going to keep my couture line intact and not high-priced. The aim is to design a lot of luxury pret as well. I have worked a lot with brocades and I am going to be using a lot of Chanderi in my next spring-summer collection. My focus is also on Indo-Western silhouettes — kurtis, dailywear tunics and kaftan tops, which Ashima-Leena wasn’t doing. I want to address occasion wear as nobody wants to dress up ethnic all the time,” says Ashima.
Taking that forward, her debut collection is called ‘The Silk Route’. It is inspired by the designer’s travels and research on Central Asia. The silhouettes are traditional but with a twist, and include jackets, long tunics, lehengas, angrakha tops, draped tops, sarong dhotis and saris.
“The collection encourages mix-and-match. I have used layering of silk and sheer, along with brocade. I have incorporated fine embroideries like zardozi, marori and zari taar work of Uzbekistan and Persia as well as appliqué work. I like working with vibrant colours and this collection brings in deep jewel tones to hues of corals, peach, dusty blue and soft aubergine,” explains Ashima, who is planning to showcase at Amazon India Fashion Week Autumn-Winter 2017.