Today, the British Fashion Council (BFC) is delighted to announce that Priya Ahluwalia of Ahluwalia, is the recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. The Award was presented by Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex, on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, during a virtual event. Ahluwalia is recognised for her active contribution to changing the industry for the better, her work in pioneering responsible sourcing and manufacturing techniques, while telling the stories of those who make her clothes and the communities she works with.

The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design was initiated in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy and the movement of young designers that are both talented and making a difference to society through either sustainable practices or community engagement. The inaugural Award was announced and presented to Richard Quinn in February 2018 when The Queen made Her Majesty’s first visit to London Fashion Week. In 2019, the prestigious Award was presented to Bethany Williams by The Duchess of Cornwall and in 2020 to Rosh Mahtani by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal.

With sustainability and ethical practice always at the heart of the design process, Ahluwalia has been chosen for her focus on craftsmanship and community. Her sustainably minded menswear collections, made of dead stock and repurposed locally sourced vintage materials, combine elements and influences from her Nigerian and Indian heritage, making her designs truly unique. She is a progressive thinking leader and agent for change who has used her platform to raise awareness around the challenges of the Black community, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Caroline Rush CBE, Chief Executive British Fashion Council (BFC) commented: “We are delighted to announce Priya Ahluwalia as the fourth recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Ahluwalia’s unique and ethical design process combined with her ability and passion to give back to communities around London and the globe make her an inspiration for many young British designers. We are incredibly proud to recognise Priya and look forward to seeing her business grow.”

Ahluwalia launched her eponymous label in 2018, after graduating from the MA Menswear course at The University of Westminster and winning the H&M Design Award 2019. In 2019, Ahluwalia was a recipient of BFC’s 2019/2020 NEWGEN initiative, the most established designer development scheme globally supporting the very best emerging talent. In 2020, Ahluwalia became one of the eight brands to win the LVMH Prize 2020 and was noted on the Forbes 30 under 30 on the European Arts and Culture List. The label also became part of the Matches Fashion’s Innovators programme which champions emerging design talent through mentorship, preferential business terms and marketing. In November it was announced that Ahluwalia would be taking part in GUCCIFest and showcasing their first feature film, Joy, with Gucci’s support. In December 2020, Ahluwalia was named a People Honouree at The Fashion Awards.

Each year a designer is selected by the BFC, in collaboration with the Royal Household, to be recognised by the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. The Award, designed by Angela Kelly, inspired by The Queen Elizabeth rose, has been hand-produced by Lucy Price at Bauhinia Studios and in Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter.

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The British Fashion Council (BFC) was set up in 1983 to promote British fashion internationally and co-ordinate this promotion through fashion weeks, exhibitions and showcasing events. BFC now supports designers beginning at college level and extending to talent identification, business support and showcasing schemes. The BFC promotes British fashion and its influential role at home and abroad, helping British designer businesses develop their profiles and business globally. BFC Foundation (Registered Charity Number: 11852152) was created for charitable purposes and grant giving; attracting, developing and retaining talent through education and business mentoring. BFC Colleges Council offers support to students through BA and MA scholarships and links with industry through design competitions and Graduate Preview Day. Through grant-giving and business mentoring the BFC support designers through four talent identification and business support schemes: BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund, NEWGEN which includes womenswear, menswear and accessories, and the BFC Fashion Trust, a charity supporting UK based designers. The BFC showcasing initiatives and events include London Fashion Week, London Fashion Week Men’s, LONDON show ROOMs and the annual celebration of creativity and innovation in the fashion industry: The Fashion Awards.

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Ahluwalia has published two books. The most recent publication is called Jalebi and brings together several strands of Ahluwalia’s work into an expression of what it means to be a young mixed heritage person living in modern Britain. Photographed by Laurence Ellis, the narrative swaps between real and imagined as it reminisces of the designer’s own growing up and regularly visiting Southall, Britain’s first Punjabi community. The first book, titled Sweet Lassi, was inspired by a 2017 trip to her family in Lagos, Nigeria where the designer spotted people wearing obscure British clothing – including a London Marathon 2012 shirt. Following this, she went on a trip to Panipat in India, the global garment recycling capital of the world, where she photographed the environment that signifies the relationship of cultural heritage and the issues around sustainability in the West. Also a snapshot of the brand’s first collection for SS19, this edition marks the inception of the Ahluwalia ethos.

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