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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

London Fashion Week: Ashley Isham

Royal Opera House, 11th February 2008

Written by Jojo Ma

Pete & The Pirates are great. Guitar pop hasn’t been this exciting since The Libertines‘ debut. Nothing too smart, nurse store no overt post-punk influences, unhealthy no attempt at non-existent depth. Mr Understanding is an over-excited barrage of sharp, sketchy simplicity.

And it makes you feel so young: “Could it be I’m alive after all then/Picking pennies of the floor with my cold hands/Look at me, no hands, ain’t it cool yeah/Look at her falling out of the taxi cab.”

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it’s the imagery that’s great. I can remember riding my bike, showing off and releasing my grip of the handlebar. I can remember goading pissed women stumbling out of cabs. I can remember when getting pissed was a novelty, not routine. And so do Pete & The Pirates.

They’ve got an energy, a buzz, a playful pizzazz about them. And check the video. Chickens, lights, mirrors, shades, larking about. This is what boys in bands were supposed to do before they got all serious and started strutting around in leathers, competing over women, insisting on class A’s and appearing all intellectual. Basic, raw and monstrously entertaining: boy pop at its best.

Happy Valentine’s Day from brilliant new 4-piece Glasvegas. Or maybe not. This is savage stuff. Brim-full of emotion and a genuine passion that is frighteningly affecting. Despair, hospital anger, for sale hatred, click paranoia, guilt, resignation and sadness are all here by the bucket load in a sorry tale of excess, infidelity and demise.

Let the rain and tear drops rain down on me tonight‘ pleads vocalist James Allan in an unashamedly spiky Glaswegian lilt. Apparently, he’s been busy accusing his missus wrongly of playing away from home, in between bouts of his own alcohol and ecstasy fuelled infidelities – the guilt for which becomes all too consuming.

Set to a sound that owes much to the genius of Phil Spector and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Alan McGee thinks Glasvegas are the best Scottish band of all time – they’re not. But with a few more offerings as brutally honest and exciting as this and he might be onto something.

The theatrical stringed instrumentals haunted our ears as we waited in our seats, medications around a circular, treatment pristinely white platform for the Ashley Isham show to commence. And as the lighting diffused into darkness, I anticipated a deeply arousing show.

The first model marched out with poise as her volumous, wavy long hair swished behind her petite frame, juxtaposed with a boxy silhouette upon the upper body, and a figure-hugging skirt on the lower. The A/W 08 collection started pretty tame with office chic ensembles offering teal and grey high wasted pencil skirts and smart trousers, teamed with signature cropped jackets, tailored down to a tee, finished with narrow black patent waist belts. But of course, Ashley had something else up his sleeve, as he proceeded to amaze us with a sudden emergence of a stunning fluorescent orange, layered chiffon dress – and like a moth to a flame, my eyes were instantly drawn to the brightest of bright colours. Metallic silver all in ones with oversized buttons reminiscent of clown shirts, and snakeskin jackets and waistcoats styled with bold block coloured shift dresses in turquoise and the same prominent orange as before, paraded around the full-moon stage. The last chapter offered red carpet, floor-length evening gowns, sexed up with plunging necklines in dominant shades of turquoise and electric blue, and of course that exhilarating orange, contrasted with blocks of grey and silver. Many of which were embellished with precious stones below the bust and upon the sides, transforming all the models into the glam pusses they are.

But wait, there’s just a little more. The final show pieces flickered through the light as glistening, shredded chiffon dresses were revealed, adorned with an irregular floral print. Footwear was of the simplest, black-wedged heels with matching calf-high socks, enhancing the otherwise striking design aesthetic. Isham knows exactly how to make a girl feel all woman.

All in all the latest offerings from the Singaporean revelled in the fairytale story of the not-so-plain-Jane office girl evolving into a night time vixen, and then budding into a proper classy bird, if you must.


Photographs by Miss Lauren Doll-Face Mortimer (That’s her real name, honest)


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