Saudi fashion label Ashi Studio presents Ink Sculpture haute couture show in Paris

Shown in just three colours, dresses shone through thanks to beautiful cut and form

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Mohammed Ashi was the first fashion designer from Saudi Arabia to be invited to join the Parisian Haute Couture schedule last summer, and today he unveiled his latest offering under its auspices for spring 2024.

Titled Ink Sculpture, the compact show – at just 20 looks – was once again where Ashi explored what is clearly a fascination for him: how shape and form relate to the body. Told in a palette of just three colours, black, gold and ivory, the story began with a sharply tailored trouser suit densely worked in black sequins. This had a trail of tulle ruffles coming from one sleeve that was long enough to be carried in the other hand, adding a strangely beautiful asymmetry.

A look of black palazzo pants followed, worn underneath a tuxedo gilet of tightly packed ruffles, which sat high and proud of the shoulders. Next was a diaphanous chiffon baby-doll, again in black, with gorgeous dropped-shoulder sleeves that had extra volume as exaggerated ruffs around the neck, cuffs and hem.

A pale gold bandeau top and wide-legged trousers – completely smothered in beading – had their own sequinned cape held at the neck via a choker, setting up the next series of dresses that were air-filled, ivory silk confections, plumped and twisted around the body inside, or as oversized sleeves on a minidress.

A tailored short suit, meanwhile, was so technically brilliant, its sleeves were opened and deconstructed to become their own heavy swing coat. It was a remarkable feat of fabric engineering.

More volume was built around the necklines of form-fitted dress, while one outfit looked like it had exploded outward, leaving a part balance precariously on one shoulder and exposing the inner workings of corsetry around the waist.

Other looks came constructed as layers of bell-shaped skirts piled on top of each other like some new, exotic species of jellyfish.

Underneath all this volume, however, Ashi is a highly skilled tailor. This was best seen as a body-hugging black velvet torso paired with a floor-length skirt of loops of beads, which was both imposing and impossibly delicate.

The final look, the traditional bride, arrived in this show in a pared-back sheath dress, with a simple scooped neckline, and with slits up either side. The absolute simplicity of the cut gave space for the handwork to be seen, a dense surface of pale golden beads that left the material weighty and stiff, as a clever counterpoint.

This is only the designer's second outing in haute couture, yet is already demonstrating the skill of the atelier at his disposal. Haute couture may be a small, rarefied universe, one that caters to a small number of clients, but these clients fully understand and appreciate the precision that lies behind each and every piece of clothing. Ashi's is a talent studio that should have the order book filling up quickly.

Updated: January 26, 2024, 5:37 AM