Ashley arrived from his native Singapore in 1996 with a case full of determination and zeal. On completing his degree in fashion design at the famed Central St. Martins, he furthered his degree at Middlesex University.
In 2000, he realised his dreams after launching his debut collection at London Fashion Week to critical acclaim. Since then Ashley has shown a collection each season that has kept Editors, Buyers and A listers mesmerised by his creations.
Q What would you say was behind your design aesthetic?
Ashley: I love a woman who is sensual, sophisticated, contemporary with good taste. My design philosophy is simply to make a woman feel comfortable, confident, romantic yet empowered when they slip into an Ashley Isham. I try to bring the goddess in a woman as when I was a child I love reading The Odyssey which are epic poetry attributed to the Greek poet Homer, hence my long love affair with draping jersey.
Q Your garments are very romantic are you a romantic yourself?
Ashley: Yes of course I am a romantic and still believe in dreams and aspirations. It is important for me to continue to grow and dream of the inspiration, shape and silhouette for every new season.
Q You have two styles that are reoccurring. Your holographic dresses and your signature draped jersey dresses; that are very goddess like. Do you have a muse with each collection?
Ashley: Well I enjoy designing tailored dresses that are razor sharp and the signature draped jersey dress that are fluidly soft. Its the yin and yang in my collection as it balances the inspiration. I am a Libra after all so I always try to balance everything. Of course I have a muse with each collection as they inspire and mould the shape of my design.
Q You have a huge celebrity following. Tell us about your personal experiences dressing Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and royalty?
Ashley: Well, I must say that the celebrities that I had worked with have all been amazingly great and thoughtful to me. I guess I must have been blessed in my life.
Q Have you ever found yourself stuck for inspiration? How do you get around this?
Ashley: Every creative person will experience a creative block. Its part of the creative industry. Whenever I am stuck for inspiration, I always make it a point to spend time with my family and friends in Singapore as I get to relax and let the inspiration flows through my thoughts. I also try to go to the art galleries, museums, people watching and going to theatre to feel inspired again.
Q What keeps you grounded in this ever changing and demanding world of fashion?
Ashley: I am very grounded actually and its all because of my family. They have been hugely supportive and encouraging throughout my career of 12 years at the helm my own label. Oh my god, my two nephews Adam and Oliver are so adorable and to see them smile is enough to keep my feet firmly grounded. My mum has always been a huge inspiration for me and has always taught me to always be myself, be humble no matter what happens, work hard and stay focus in order to achieve my dreams.
Q Originally from Singapore, you have made some more obvious references to your culture, for example head dresses in your Spring summer 2011 show. Have you used any underlying themes that may not be so obvious to your followers?
Ashley: Yes of course, I used to create my own prints and there are always underlying themes like a modern interpretation of the batik prints. I believe that I designed with Western Contemporary Flair but infused it with my Eastern Sensibilities which is my roots and heritage, that is what makes it exotic and special.
Q Tell us about your foray into jewellery design?
Ashley: I was approached by Singapore Premiere Jewellers Lee Hwa to design a capsule collection for their jewellery. Initially I was very scared as I was totally out of my comfort zone but I thoroughly enjoy the design process and learnt so much with the collaboration. Thank god the debut collaboration was a huge success in the Asia region and they renewed my contract. Ever since then I had been approached by numerous jewellers to collaborate with them which is certainly very, very encouraging. I am in the process of designing another capsule collection with Lee Hwa again for 2012. A woman needs to complete her Ashley Isham outfit with jewellery after all, so it’s a perfect marriage.
Q How does Ashley Isham relax after fashion week?
Ashley: I stay in bed for at least two days and eat comfort food as I would be so run down and exhausted after my show during London Fashion Week. If I can squeeze and run away for a week of sun on the beach then I will try to do that before the presentation of the collection to buyers and press in Paris during Paris Fashion Week, so that I would be totally freshened up. I try to just chill and gain my energy as I am no longer a 20-odd year old designer, I always try to pace myself and recover from the drama and stress prior to the show.
Q What shall we look forward to from you in 2012?
Ashley: Well, I know that my schedule is getting very tight already for 2012 which I am grateful for, especially with the tough current economic climate that everyone is going through, but nevertheless I am looking forward to a FABULOUS 2012.