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Designer diaries:

Designer Priya Ahluwalia speaks to ES about her AW21 collection, the future of fashion and the increase of representation in fashion

What does a day preparing for your new collection look like?

Everyday preparing the new collection was really varied. It depended on where we were in the timeline.
There was a lot of reading at the beginning, followed by creating big mood boards in the studio. Some days were full of a lot of drawings or textile experiments and print design trials, some were full of sewing toiles or fittings.
Each day is so different which is something I love about my job.

How are you feeling right now?

Full of butterflies! I'm really nervous but excited.

What has your collection prep snack been?

I'm trying to be healthier at the moment, so my drink of choice has been green tea and I've been eating lots of vegetables.
Nothing too exciting I'm afraid.

Sum up your new collection and the inspirations behind it?

The research for the collection started after I read the book Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. The themes of the book span family, migration and ancestry and lead me to think about societal and cultural effects of migration.

I thought about the Harlem renaissance and the idea of syncretism and started to amalgamate different reference points such as the work of Kerry James Marshall and migration maps. The collection is made of black and brown tones with pops of jewel tones and features ombre prints and dip dying techniques.

How has it been putting on this digital-only show vs how you normally do it? What have you learned?

Shows and films are so different, they both have different benefits.
There is such a buzz and feeling of adrenaline that I definitely miss about physical shows. You can really craft a 360 atmosphere for people to enjoy, I definitely love and miss the theatrics of it.

However, what I love about doing a film is that it is able to be seen by anyone with access to the internet, rather than a select few at a fashion show. People can watch and re-watch it as many times as they like. I love that it democratises the process of engaging with fashion week. I've learnt so much from Stephen Isaac-Wilson and Cktrl, they are such amazing creatives and I feel honoured that I've been able to work with them both.


Have there been any silver linings to the pandemic for you/ your business?

There have definitely been some silver linings in a year of huge turbulence. The social distancing and hault of physical events has meant that I have really had to embrace digital means of communication such as the VR reality launch of my book, Jalebi, and I have learnt so much by doing so.

Certain opportunities such as GucciFest might not have happened without the pandemic. I have also won a Fashion Award and was named as a joint winner of the LVMH prize so that was also great and both were such an honour.

What do you think the future of fashion holds?

It's hard to say but I definitely think there will be more authentic storytelling, better representation across all areas of industry and less of brands sticking to the status quo.

How will you relax/celebrate once your show is finished?

To be honest, I don't have a lot of time to relax afterwards because of other projects that are in the works. Normally I would have a night out with my friends but I can't do that at the moment!
So I might just binge watch a series and then get back to the grind.