While the fashion world came to a near standstill during the pandemic lockdowns, Priya Ahluwalia decided to use the extra time as an opportunity for personal growth and development. The British/Indian-Nigerian designer specifically turned to literature as a primary pastime, and was heavily inspired by Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing—a historical fiction novel centered on two Ghanaian sisters separated by slavery.
“It showed how we move around the world and that the things from the past always follow us around,” Ahluwalia said.
The book prompted Ahluwalia to examine “migration as a societal process” that often leads to new ideas and schools of thought. This notion became the basis for Ahluwalia’s fall/winter 2021 collection, which sees the the hybridisation of various garments through the process of upcylcing.
“I wasn’t traveling and I guess travel inspired my work quite a lot. So I’m happy to look at other sources anyway,” she told Complex. “It’s funny. The whole collection is about migration of movement, and I’m not able to do any of that at the moment. So maybe it’s like the heart wants what it can’t have. There’s an element of that to it as well.”
Ahluwalia unveiled her brand’s fall/winter 2021 collection in a video presentation for London Fashion Week last month. The stunning short film, titled Traces, starred musician Cktrl and was shot by Stephen Isaac-Wilson in London.
“It was a Victorian plumbing station in London,” Ahluwalia said about the location of the film. “Yeah, it was so random but it was beautiful. I think it was really nice, and it worked really well with the set designer or the production designer, Chris Milgram. He worked really well with the space, I think, and really brought the best out of it. So I was really happy with that.”
The visual premiered just days before Ahluwalia received the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design.
“I think it will bring up opportunities,” she said about the honor. “We’re in a sales period at the moment, so I’m doing all sales appointments and stuff for the new collection. Every store has bought it up and been so happy about it.”
You can check out Ahluwalia’s Traces short film above as well as the fall/winter 2021 lookbook, shot by Laurence Ellis, below.