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London Fashion Week A/W 2011 Catwalk Review: Ashley Isham

Celeb favourite Ashley Isham showed at the new On|Off venue to throngs of famous people, like, erm, Brendan Cole from Strictly Come Dancing. Nice frocks though. Illustrations by Jo Cheung, Sanna Dyker and Madi Illustrates!

Written by Naomi Law

Illustration by Sanna Dyker

On the evening of Friday 18th February, after a brief sprint via Freemasons Hall to collect my tickets, I arrived at Mercer Street Studios in Covent Garden to see Ashley Isham’s show at On|Off.

Ashley Isham is known for his dramatic red carpet frocks so it was no surprise that a few familiar faces turned out to see his Autumn Winter 2011 collection. Brendan Cole (of Strictly Come Dancing infamy) was near the front of the scrum waiting to get into the show, looking less than impressed that he had been made to queue with everyone else. Lots of shouting from the organisers suggested that those with a silver star on their ticket would be allowed to enter first; following a host of panicked people waving their tickets in the air it turned out most of these people had been given photocopies with a black star, oh the drama. After flashing my ticket (red spot, much less confusing) I settled into my seat, spotting Paloma Faith posing for photos on the front row.  

The inspiration for the collection was the enchanted forest, and the show began with floral printed velvet micro dresses in a vivid palette. Oversaturated pansies and berries were set against bright turquoise and forest green, punctuated by dark leaves and roses.

Illustration by Madi Illustrates

The models wore elaborate headresses with a taste of the orient; clouds of tulle were pierced by tasseled chopsticks, joined by silk peonies and blossom branches. Dark lips were a reminder that this was a winter collection. In contrast to the floral themes, the collection featured flowing layers in soft metallic gunmetal and brocade bodices with heavy embroidery and black sequins. Some darker pieces were verging on gothic, with structured capped shoulders and tulle trains. Safe Grecian draping was presented in cobalt, teal and gunmetal and featured obligatory red carpet one-shouldered shapes.

Illustration by Jo Cheung

There was a dramatic moment when one of the frailer-looking models tripped and fell after becoming entangled in her long sheer tulle skirt. A room full of gasps ensued and the poor girl had to limp off in skyscraper heels and a brave attempt at nonchalance. The combination of influences in the collection did seem a little discordant when the outfits were shown one by one on the catwalk, but when all the girls returned for the finale there was a more cohesive feel.

Overall it was an interesting and elegant collection but I wouldn’t call it adventurous. The theatrical make up and headdresses added a certain something which would have been lacking had the dresses been accompanied by a more neutral look. Having said that, I’m certain that the collection will definitely continue to appeal to the celeb masses; there was living proof on my way out back to the real world with Kimberley Walsh proudly perched on the front row…

All photography by Naomi Law.

See more of Jo Cheung’s illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration!


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