Prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Award For British Design Awarded To Priya Ahluwalia
All eyes are on Priya Ahluwalia. The Nigerian-Indian and London-based menswear designer won the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2020, recently took part in GucciFest, collaborated with Adidas on a new pair of sneakers, an awardee of the British Fashion Awards and now, is the fourth recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, which honours young designers who have been making a positive impact through sustainable practices and community work.
With the UK still in lockdown, the award was presented by the Queen's daughter-in-law, Sophie, the Countess of Wessex on behalf of the Queen over Zoom during the closing of this week's London Fashion Week. The British Fashion Council (BFC), the organisation responsible for selecting the winner together with the royal household has nothing but praises for the emerging designer, calling her a "progressive thinking leader and agent for change." They also praised her efforts to give back to the communities around London and overseas as an "inspiration" to other British designers.
After gaining attention for her photobook, Sweet Lassi, Ahluwalia launched her eponymous brand in 2018. The photobook that put her into the spotlight was released alongside a collection for her master's degree in menswear and showcased her pilgrimage trip to her ancestral homes—Nigeria and India—which spark the interest behind her namesake label. Ahluwalia applies traditional textile techniques to vintage and deadstock fabrics for her streetwear collection, giving them new life while both staying sustainability-focused and showcasing her Nigerian and Indian heritage.
Talking to Tatler in July 2020, Ahluwalia said, "I think something can become sustainable if the person buying it is attached to its story, which will stop them from throwing it away and encourage them to pass it down to someone else. I hope people will want to hold onto my clothes forever."
During the award ceremony, the Countess asked Ahluwalia about her sustainability efforts. "It’s always been a case of using what’s directly available to me. A lot of students are naturally resourceful because they ought to be, it’s more cost-effective than other routes. But if you’re a huge brand, you’ve got a culture that will take a lot of time to undo, you have to implement positive practice at every level of business. They could start by looking at their stock and thinking who could (potentially) repurpose it. It could be a good opportunity to work with a younger designer — London is full of them, so they can take their pick."
Ahluwalia described winning the award as "surreal" because "it's lovely to be recognised for doing something you love." Ahluwalia joins the ranks of former winners and up-and-coming designers, Richard Quinn, Bethany Williams and Rosh Mahtani.