The annual prize, now in its fourth yr, was offered by the Queen’s daughter-in-law Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, throughout a digital occasion at London Fashion Week on Tuesday.
An announcement issued by the British Fashion Council (BFC), the group answerable for working with the royal family to pick out a winner, referred to as the younger designer a “progressive thinking leader and agent for change.”
Ahluwalia launched her namesake model in 2018, having first attracted trade consideration for her photobook “Sweet Lassi.” The guide, launched alongside a graduate assortment for her masters diploma in menswear, chronicled the designer’s eye-opening journeys to Nigeria and India, the place she witnessed the size of the second-hand garment trade and the amount of waste clothes generated by shoppers.
Piles of clothes in Panipat photographed in ‘Sweet Lassi’ Credit: Priya Ahluwalia
In an interview with Source final yr, the London-based designer, who’s of each Indian and Nigerian heritage, mentioned her curiosity in sustainable design was piqued throughout a visit to see household in Lagos. There, she seen market merchants sporting obscure gadgets of clothes from abroad, akin to a T-shirt from the 2012 London Marathon.
“I was intrigued and dug deeper, moving forward on a hunch that the presence of these textiles heralded a larger story,” she mentioned.
Her analysis led her to town of Panipat, north of Delhi, which serves as an enormous hub for garment recycling and is sometimes called the “cast-off capital” of the world. “I was fascinated and also worried about how much we throw away,” Ahluwalia mentioned. “Visiting Panipat was life-changing and I decided to start my brand with sustainable principles.”
“Sweet Lassi” paired photos of individuals sitting amongst piles of previous clothes in recycling amenities with studio pictures of fashions sporting her personal avant-garde types.
Ahluwalia’s menswear makes use of classic and deadstock materials, mixing sportswear with extra classically tailor-made silhouettes. Her modern strategy has seen her win a number of notable awards lately, together with the H&M Design Prize in 2019. She was additionally one in every of eight manufacturers to collectively win the distinguished LVMH Prize in 2020.
Ahluwalia Autumn-Winter 2020 Credit: Dominika Scheibinger
Photography continues to play an necessary function in Ahluwalia’s work, which melds conceptual design with narrative storytelling — usually with a eager give attention to supplies and folks. “I feel more like a multidisciplinary creative … I also like the idea of storytelling and creating a world for anyone who is interested,” she mentioned.
During London Fashion Week final June, Ahluwalia revealed one other guide, “Jalebi,” which additionally drew on her personal heritage. Working with photographer Laurence Ellis, she put West London’s Punjabi neighborhood entrance and heart by documenting day by day life within the various Southall neighborhood. According to Ahluwalia, whose mom is Punjabi, the ensuing photos have been a tribute to multiculturalism in Britain.
“Brexit had just happened as well as the Windrush scandal and there was an increasingly hostile environment for ethnic minorities,” she defined. “I wanted to create a piece of work that celebrated the beauty in diversity.”
Still from Ahluwalia’s digital exhibition and guide ‘Jalebi’ Credit: Ahluwalia/Laurence Ellis
A glance from Ahluwalia Autumn-Winter 2021 Credit: Laurence Ellis
The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design acknowledges the style trade’s function in society and diplomacy. It honors younger designers whose work makes a optimistic affect by means of sustainable practices or neighborhood engagement.
BFC chief govt Caroline Rush praised Ahluwalia’s efforts to offer again to communities round London and overseas, calling her an “inspiration” to younger British designers.
During the digital presentation of the award on Tuesday, Ahluwalia described the win as “surreal,” including “it’s lovely to be recognized for doing something you love.”
Richard Quinn received the inaugural award in 2018, with the Queen making a shock look within the entrance row at his London Fashion Week present to current the award. Josh Mahtani, founder of knickknack model Alighieri, and clothier Bethany Williams are the prize’s different earlier winners.
London Fashion Week runs Friday 19 to Tuesday 23 February, and is solely digital this season because of the ongoing pandemic.
(Top picture: A portrait of Priya Ahluwalia by Laurence Ellis)