By Camille Stanley
As I approached the BFC Show Space in my £9.99 Zara dress (no shame, it is an all-round great dress: inexpensive, versatile and colourful enough to brighten any scenario), I began to feel a little out of my depth. After all, I was surrounded by fashion elite on the first day of London Fashion Week 2019. Luckily, my excitement to witness the first standalone show from Central Saint Martins graduate, A Sai Ta, overcame any insecurity.
A Sai Ta, the designer behind the brand ASAI,was previously nurtured under the Fashion East initiative that was created to support young designers through the difficult early stages of their career. Previous to this, Ta had been headhunted for an internship at Yeezy, and had gained further experience at The Row, a label by the Olsen sisters. However, Ta’s eye is distinctly his own. He first gained mass exposure from the release of his ‘hot wok’ polo-necks, known for their tie-dye design and bright colour palette. So when I sat down to experience the ASAI Autumn/Winter 2019 collection I was surprised, but visually delighted, to witness the evolution of Ta’s vision.
In this show, the electric acid colours and unravelling layers of material seen in some of his previous collections made way for stricter tailoring in more neutral, earthy tones (perhaps a nod to his time at Yeezy). In an interview with Vogue backstage after his show the British-Chinese-Vietnamese designer explained “I wanted to look at what it means to be British from an outsider perspective’’. This British influence was evident through the presence of trenches and heavy coats in heritage fabrics. The dark brown tweed and checker print that adorned the clothes wouldn’t look amiss in country cities like Bath. Arguably, these smaller British cities are in need of adopting a fresh perspective on what it means to be ‘British’ and it is this that Ta provides. The subtle presence of his signature ‘hot wok’ tops, traces of gold foil on the clothing and unique styling, albeit in colour palettes of beiges, creams and browns, reflect how his Asian background has its place amongst more traditional British styles. To put it simply, ASAI collections are never dull. The looks often feature unique layering, an array of different fabrics and an underlying narrative, all of which keeps me intrigued as to where Ta will take his label next.
The ASAIA/W19 collection was my first time at a show by A Sai Ta and I hope it’s not my last. Ta demonstrated that he is a designer who knows how to utilize his signature style, but who is also unafraid of experimenting. Within this collection, he did so triumphantly. If there’s anything I want to wear this autumn/winter, it’s an ASAI oversized, belted duvet coat in beige. Yes please!