Ashley Isham’s Contemporary Maximalism for S/S’12

by Katie on September 30, 2011

The Nymphs of Ancient Greece were minor deities associated with nature, beautiful maidens who dwelled in mountains and woodland, usually near water, and whose love of song and dance animated the world around them. The original Greek can be translated to mean “a marriageable young woman”, and there are countless myths regarding these vivacious spirits and their unions with mortals. Unfortunately the word ‘nymph’ attracts bad press nowadays, and is only really used by the tabloids as a term to describe tipsy soap actresses and Page 3 stunnas, thanks to deep-seated patriarchal fears of strong women at ease with their sexuality. Ashley Isham thankfully has no such qualms and, with his Spring/Summer 2012 collection, is bringing a patina of classical mythology to the 21st century starlets that he dresses.

The Singaporean designer is now into his second decade on the London fashion scene, the first spent dressing a ‘Who’s Who’ of OK magazine regulars. Success can sometimes lead to complacency, but not in Isham’s case. His Spring/Summer 2012 collection is crammed full of classical influences, and the feminine, flattering draping which he is known for, yet the retina-searing palette of opulent jewel tones, chintzy floral duchess satin, and paisley chiffon bring this offering bang up to date.

Baroquely-tooled metallic leather and Guipure lace feature throughout, de trop touches which would seem excessive in less skilled hands but remain convincingly contemporary in this post-maximalist world of “good” bad taste. Some commentators took Isham’s decision to show these not particularly matrimonial dresses with gauzy veils too literally, but to my mind this is merely a styling conceit, mythical window-dressing if you will.

Enchanting and enticing, Ashley Isham’s modern-day nymphs remain as seductive as their historical counterparts.
Review written by Lee Clatworthy (@Teamchutzpah) for Katie Chutzpah blog.

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