Saudi’s Ashi Studio joins Thom Browne on French haute couture schedule

Ashi, an acclaimed new designer from Saudi Arabia, will join Thom Browne as the two new debutantes in the next French haute couture season, whose schedule was released on Monday.

Ashi Studio

The decision makes Ashi the first-ever couturier from the Gulf to be listed on the highly prestigious Paris calendar.
The next Paris couture week is scheduled to run from Monday, July 3 to Thursday, July 6. A total of 32 houses are listed on the provisional Calendar, which is controlled by Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body. And, in a major surprise, given how many shows had been purely digital post-pandemic, all 32 houses will stage physical shows this season. 

“This appointment is the highlight of my career. This recognition brings me the greatest emotion, it offers me the opportunity to share with you who I am,” Ashi said in a statement. 
Ashi launched his label in Beirut in 2007 and later moved his headquarters to Paris in 2017. Critically acclaimed for his sensual silhouettes and precise finish, Ashi’s clothes have become fixtures on red carpets, and worn by the likes of Padukone, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. 
Charles de Vilmorin, a noted young French couturier, will also return as a guest member. In addition, two Paris-based houses, Patou and Alaïa,  will unveil their women’s ready-to-wear collections on Sunday, July 2, respectively at 6pm and 8pm CET. 
As is recent tradition, the season kicks off with Schiaparelli on Monday at 10am, and will include such stellar marques as Chanel, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani Privé, Balenciaga, Elie Saab, Fendi and Jean-Paul Gaultier. The house of Gaultier has been rotating new designers for the past few years, and this July it will be the turn of Julien Dossena, the creative director of Paco Rabanne.
All eyes will be on Valentino, which will stage a gala show outside of Paris on Wednesday evening in the  historic Chateau de Chantilly. Thom Browne will make his couture debut on Monday evening, while Ashi will show on Thursday morning.
“In the 90s I was the only designer from Saudi. But I never said I was Saudi. I wanted the clothes to be out front, not me,” Ashi told AFP, stressing that he was careful not to highlight his nationality, in part because Western fashion was taboo in his youth in 1980s Saudi Arabia. 
However, since Saudi Arabia began staging fashion seasons – albeit restricted to women-only audiences – Ashi has been welcomed home as a mentor for the kingdom’s Fashion Commission, set up in 2020 to develop homegrown talent
“They’re giving scholarships to people for something that was prohibited when I was growing up. It’s an iconic moment,” he said.

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