AHLUWALIA X GANNI: AW21
2021 is gearing up to be the year of Priya Ahluwalia. The 28-year-old menswear maven has proven herself to be one of the most exciting names to come out of London in recent memory. Back in February, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, recognised not only for her tremendous sustainable practices, but her devotion to interweaving her British-Indian-Nigerian identity in everything she does. Not to mention she currently has her SS21 campaign plastered across billboards all over London.
We’re already four months into this crappy year, and though Ahluwalia deserves to put her feet up and have a cuppa, she’s going pedal to the metal. For the first time since she founded her eponymous label in 2018, Ahluwalia has designed a womenswear collection; a collaboration with Copenhagen-based brand Ganni.
The connection first happened over a year ago, when Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni’s creative director, was introduced to Ahluwalia’s brand by a friend. “It was a really open conversation at the beginning then [Ganni] suggested we do two collaborations together and it went from there,” says Ahluwalia. “For me, it was a no brainer because I love and wear Ganni and have a personal affiliation with the brand.”
“I had been admiring Priya’s work from afar and after we connected, she came to Copenhagen last February just before lockdown to meet the team – it was instant chemistry,” adds Reffstrup. With sustainability being a pillar of brands, the pair got on like a house on fire, with Ahluwalia calling Ditte Reffstrup and her husband Nicolaj, “the best hosts ever.”
Flash forward over a year later – and plenty Zoom fittings in between – and here you have it: a 19-piece womenswear collection entirely designed and made using surplus Ganni materials and leftover styles.
Although Ahluwalia is an advocate that anyone can wear her clothes, this was the first time she designed with a woman’s frame in mind. “I was constantly thinking about myself and my friends going out and dancing, and how something would make me feel confident,” says Ahluwalia. “Questioning do I feel sexy without [the collection] being really revealing, or can I eat a roast dinner in this dress but still feel fab.”
Jackets, dresses, jumpsuits and twinsets have been envisioned in Ahluwalia’s signature patchworked designs, pieced together with a taste for London’s dancefloors through the nineties in mind. “I think there are just expectations on women to wear things that are beautiful that aren’t necessarily comfortable,” affirms Ahluwalia, who was adamant to make a collection pretty on the eye that could still be worn to go out raving in.
“What we loved are Priya’s mixed references drawing upon different cultural backgrounds and her genuine to-the-bone London approach,” says Reffstrup “It’s admirable how she creates a responsible product through upcycling and repurposing – and the fact that is something that is at the core of her product, rather than an afterthought. It’s been so refreshing to work together.”
The collection lands online and in select Ganni stores on April 23, with that second instalment set to arrive later this year. If you’re looking for a new going out uniform come June 21, girls, don’t wait up.
Photography by Lawrence Ellis.