With hardship comes ease. At least in the case of Priya Ahluwalia, who’s a hard year behind her. For many personal reasons, the British designer had to grow up in a short period of time, resulting in her strongest and most personal collection yet. Ahluwalia’s clothes always carry a sense of playfulness – with colour, print and form. For AW20 though, that sense has extended into a more refined sensibility. Looking at the year 1965 in its cultural entirety, she researched across all disciplines of art, design, fashion and culture while focusing on all geographical territories that somehow relate to her heritage – India, Nigeria, UK and the Carribean. Skipping on the usual nostalgic clichés of the times, Ahluwalia swapped checked flairs and flower crowns for a more subtle interpretation of the 1960s.
A muted, earthy colour palette with flashes of Priya Ahluwalia’s favourite bright colours was borrowed from Barbara Brown. The graphic artist and print designer came to prominence during the 1960s and 1970s while working with heritage furniture chain Heal’s, and is best known for the irregular, wave-length lines that make her work. The visuals emulate a “controlled sense of psychedelia,” as Ahluwalia describes it, taking us on a visual trip of colours and lines. In garment form, they are reflected in a multitude of ways – instead of regular photo-prints, Ahluwalia used laser-etching on denim as well as vinyl transforms and patchwork techniques, all reflecting Browns’ lines. A collaboration with Adidas resulted in using the sportswear brand’s deadstock pieces, allowing for a larger scale of Ahluwalia’s sustainable ways of reusing existing garments. “I’m stuck in-between youth and adulthood,” the designer said at the presentation. Well, if this what limbo looks like, who wants to grow up anyway?
Photographs by Dominika Scheibinger.