What can you say of a man who started designing at the age of 15? Just one word – inspiring. Yes, we are talking about veteran designer Ashish N Soni, who tailored his own school uniform even before his sweet 16, and by his own admission has always been fascinated by patterns, fabrics and embroidery. Today, this pioneer of contemporary Indian fashion has a fan following even among celebs for his minimal yet elegant designs with edgy detailing.
Ahead of the Lakmé Fashion Week (August 24-28), we caught up with the designer who’s collaborated with hair and salon products brand TRESemme to curate a show themed on volume and focusing on three aspects – a sophisticated day look, a sculpted evening look and an avant-garde over-the-top look.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
What can we expect from your Lakmé Fashion Week collection?
The overall theme of the Autumn-Winter collection is volume. Fortunately for me it’s something I can understand and relate well with. The challenge was to interpret oversized clothing like the baggy trousers from the ’80s, the big shoulders from the late ’70s, the white suits from the ’60s, the boyfriend shirts, boxy jackets and grandfather sweaters, and present it in a contemporary manner. Interesting to see and look, this collection can easily filter into a woman’s wardrobe.
Your inspiration for the collection?
My inspirations were the global style icons of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s – like Marilyn Monroe and Madonna – who knew exactly what they were doing. But more than that it was the desire to send out a message of newness in my collection, while retaining my signature style.
Your take on plus-sized models? Would you let them model your outfits?
Yes, absolutely! Especially with my latest collection for LFW. All these oversized clothing, whether worn by a size zero model or a plus-sized model looks equally chic, provided the person is comfortable in carrying it.
Three things that every men and women should have in their wardrobe?
A classic black jacket can be your best friend, especially if you are on the run. It can be your best weapon to completely transform your look. Then there is the classic white shirt, which should be a compulsory item in your wardrobe. And, of course, a fitted pair of jeans, which doesn’t have to be trend-based, but should be something that suits your body and is more like a second skin. I think you can spend a lifetime with these three items alone.
Men are taking an active interest in how they dress and groom themselves, and since you have championed menswear, tell us the three things that Indian men should experiment more with.
The first thing that comes to my mind is colour. I know that over the years, a lot of Indian men have become adventurous and I am very happy about that but they still shy away from colour. That’s definitely something they should consider working with. Second, experiment with layering when possible. You will find that Indian women are good at the layering game and they do it interestingly but not men. Third, men should step out of their comfort zones and adapt trends in the way that works best for them. A lot of men say they would rather be classic and follow old-school styling. It’s lovely, but incorporating a little bit of the latest trends in your wardrobe will make you look more on point.
Which Bollywood celeb (both male and female) do you think has an amazing sense of style?
That’s changed over the years. I have a lot of celebrity friends and their sense of styling is completely different from what it was 15 years ago. Today, they have in-house stylists who tutor them on what to wear and how to wear it. Overall, it’s a good thing because they are wearing stuff that’s good for them while being on trend at the same time. Also, there is the fact that their sense of styling during public appearances and personal outings are very different. Instead of taking one or two names, I would say that there are quite a few celebs now in the industry who’s got a strong sense of fashion and it reflects in their personal style too. The best example would be Ranveer Singh.
Just like Aditi Rao Hydari turned a muse to designer Anita Dongre, do you have a muse too?
The concept of a muse has always existed and mostly it’s imaginary. Also, it comes and goes but I have never found myself boxed by that thought. My biggest inspiration are people around me.
What should the modern-day Indian bride and groom experiment more with?
I think the brides are experimenting considerably. From hair to jewellery, they have come a long way in the last three-four years. Also, when it comes to colours, they have started experimenting with colours like English green and pale blues. With men it’s different because they want to stick to traditional elements; but, like I said, a little bit of colour won’t harm you.
What is Ashish N Soni’s personal style like?
I love to dress-up and when I have the opportunity you will get to see me in suits 24*7. But the weather in India doesn’t always permit that and at most times your shirt will already be wet by the time you reach the event. Comfort, for me, is very important and I prefer dressing up in simple denims and shirts.