In addition to being a fashion designer, Paul Smith also has a foundation: the Paul Smith Foundation, with which he mentors designers. Jean Paul Gaultier is like that and has called on the talents of designers to collaborate with his couture collections. Understanding the importance of giving back, big name designers as such know that no one gets where they are in life without someone giving them a chance. Smith has received help and mentorship over the years, so he likes to give back – he thrives on it. Smith and Priya Ahluwalia have just collaborated on a limited-edition capsule collection after the two London-based designers struck up a friendship.
If you’ve ever been around Smith, you know how down-to-earth he is. He doesn’t seem to have an arrogant or selfish bone in his body, so it was a no-brainer for him to support Ahluwalia. “Driven by a shared passion for creativity, innovation and sustainability, the 11-piece limited-edition collection represents the coming together of two distinct creative minds,” states the collection.
With the earth in mind, the duo centered the collection on sustainability. Drawing from Smith’s archives, the collection is made from 100% organic cotton and yarns, biodegradable Lenzing Ecovero viscose and surplus jersey and woven fabrics.
“I had the pleasure of being introduced to Priya through a mutual friend and our shared approach to design was evident from our first meeting. Her maverick spirit reminded me of myself when I was just starting out. “While our styles may look different at first glance, we come from the same place: a real belief that clothes should be a source of joy. This collaborative collection is proof of that,” Paul says from notes.
Ahluwalia combines elements that come from her native Indo-Nigerian heritage, as well as her London roots. Incorporating leftover vintage clothing, breathing new life into existing material using fabric and patchwork techniques, makes her a true enduring artist. His unique pieces are inspired by art, music and literature.
It’s a colorful collection inspired by Ahluwalia’s personal photographs of Nigeria and India, combined with Smith’s love of the sport where you see references to vintage cycling. Another inspiration comes from the Studio One Records album cover and the work of Ikko Tanaka, a graphic designer and Ernesto Cánovas, a multidisciplinary artist.
“This collaboration is so special to me because it was born out of friendship and curiosity. A while ago Paul so kindly invited me to come meet him and find out how he works, and I was blown away by him and his treasure of an office. The conversation about collaborating flowed naturally and it was such a pleasure to work with Paul and the Paul Smith team. They supported me a lot and I learned a lot from them. The collection is a perfect blend of Paul Smith and Ahluwalia codes and I can’t wait for it to be released,” says Ahluwalia.
The collection will be available for purchase on paulsmith.com, and will be in select Paul Smith stores – and on ahluwalia.world and exclusively at SSENSE.