In place of a physical show, AW21 saw Ahluwalia presenting their second short film Traces in collaboration with musician cktrl.
Inspired by literature, Home Going in particular, this collection explores how past experiences can have such powerful influence on our daily life. The strong impression from the pages spurred Priya on looking at migration as a societal process that leads to new ideas, with the Harlem Renaissance as the prime example.
Directed by Stephen Isaac Wilson, the film captures the spirit of migration, brotherhood and unity seen in the garments through synchronised movement performed to an exclusive score composed for this occasion by cktrl.
Traces featured choreography by Holly Blakey, styling by Nell Kalonji, casting by Troy Casting, production design by Chris Melgram and Make up by Bari Khalique.
Priya Ahluwalia collaborated with film director Samona Olanipekin to create Ahluwalia’s first short film Joy. A story that is part documentary, part fly on the wall and part fashion film.
Joy is a kaleidoscopic love story that celebrates the ‘everyday beauty and strength of the Black existence’ and features community leaders, matriarchs, poets, athletes and political activists.
The film is a snapshot of Black liberation through Afro- Caribbean rituals, something of importance to both Ahluwalia and Olanipekun who both have Nigerian heritage.
Afro-Caribbean culture is bountifully rich and full of tradition. These traditions not only connect us with our past, any dedication to them is more often than not, an act of radical self-love. Through Joy, rituals so important to Black communities such as food, hair, sports and church are explored and celebrated in nuanced ways.
Photographed by Laurence Ellis, Jalebi brings together several strands of Ahluwalia’s work and Priya’s personal life into an expression of what it means to be a young person with mixed heritage living in modern Britain. The book was a culmination of 18 months of work by Ahluwalia, Ellis and Riccardo Maria Chiacchio.
The narrative swaps between real and imaginary, reminiscing of the designer’s own childhood growing up and spending time in Southall, Britain’s first Punjabi community. The theme of family is at the heart of the Ahluwalia brand and that’s thoroughly translated in Jalebi through pictures of and interviews with the designer’s family.
The book launch has been supported by Chameleon Visual who have created a 3D, VR exhibition, allowing Jalebi to be presented in a way that wouldn’t be achievable in the real world.
All profits from Jalebi, along with the photographic print sales, will be donated to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and to Southall Black Sisters.
Photography: Laurence Ellis
Styling: Riccardo Maria Chiacchio
Casting: Troy Casting
Art Direction: Jaime Perlman
Book Design: Luca Barbieri
Digital Exhibition Space: Chameleon Visual
Ahluwalia’s first book, titled Sweet Lassi focuses on the family trip Priya made to Lagos, Nigeria in 2017.
Noticing people everywhere wearing clothes out of their sorts, street traders in T-shirts with obscure British graphics and another wearing a London Marathon top, the designer decided to dig deeper into the life of a second hand garment.
Moving forward on a hunch that the presence of these textiles heralded a larger story about second hand-clothing. Ahluwalia then visited Panipat, a city 90 north of Delhi, to photograph the global garment recycling capital of the world.
After being exposed to piles and piles of textiles and clothing, Priya dedicated her SS19 collection to what Sweet Lassi embodies, a focus on the desire to be socially responsible in her manufacturing. This edition marks the inception of the Ahluwalia ethos.
Contributors to the book included Sarah Mower MBE and Ben Reardon. The book was stocked at cult London store Machine-A and Claire de Rouen books. After the release it received recognition from various publications such as The Guardian, Vogue and Dazed and Confused. Steve Salter, i-D, commented that the book “kickstarted vital industry discussions about sustainability.”
Sweet Lassi is limited edition, with all documentary photographs by Priya Ahluwalia.
Sweet Lassi is produced by Harry Fisher and designed by Hugo Volrath. The book also features an editorial of Ahluwalia’s SS19 Collection, styled by Riccardo Maria Chiacchio, shot by Luca Anzalone.