Ashi Studio Fall 2024 Couture Collection

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While he may be the latest mononymic designer to bubble up on the PFW calendar, Ashi is hardly an unknown quantity. For the past 15 years, he has discreetly built an international clientele for his dramatic couture creations. Just days ago, Elizabeth Debicki turned up on the red carpet in a simple yet striking sequined ensemble from his studio’s spring 2024 collection.

Even so, this season marked a breakthrough for the Riyadh-born, Paris-based designer. On Thursday morning, his front row at the Monnaie de Paris starred Michelle Williams, Sadie Sink, Tom Hollander, and Calista Flockhart, in her first-ever appearance at a Paris fashion show.

Backstage, the designer made oblique reference to fraught headlines, noting that this collection, called Sculpted Clouds, offered him a chance to step away from our fast-paced reality and imagine an alternate, “more perfect” place. “It’s focused on a lost world between a reality and a dream,” he said, adding that an imaginary plane let him focus on his obsession with architecture and sculpture while also exploring a state of transition. “She’s moving into an unknown future, but one she embraces, and trying to perfect her steps along the way.”

On the darkened runway, explorations of texture and technique produced some very graceful, poetic silhouettes. Organic geometry informed pieces embellished with grape-like clusters or a skirt heavily barnacled in twists of wool, a piece that was improbably extrapolated from a specific photo of a tribal woman holding a sheep, the designer said. A fully sequined cocoon coat was borrowed from a peacock mosaic spied in a lavishly aristocratic powder room in an unspecified location. “She’s at a point in her life where she wants to tell her story,” the designer observed. As for those stalagmite bustiers, he quipped, “the only way is up.”

“I was blown away,” Flockhart commented after the show. “I thought [the show] was so beautiful and mysterious and romantic and kind of dark and sort of scary at the same time.” The actress, who is currently working on a Broadway revival of Sam Shepard’s Obie-winning Curse of the Starving Class—another meditation on dreams of escape—nodded to a couple of instantly wearable numbers. One was a long white silhouette with an unadorned top and embroidered skirt; another was the winking black number with a plunging neckline and caped effect. In all likelihood, she’s not alone on that.

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