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Monday 18th February 2019 

THE ROOM was dramatically backlit with medical examination lights and translucent privacy screens run down the centre of the show space. Eerie thumping music played as the models storm out, one-by-one, weaving in and out of the brown tinted screens and then lining up in formation. The floor is carpeted in deep turmeric yellow and the room illuminated with a warm glow. Rich and earthy colours juxta-posed the hospital-inspired set up.


Today, British-Indian designer Supriya Lele’s presented her second stand-alone collection with the support of NEWGEN, at February’s London Fashion Week. “Most people in my family are doctors, apart from me, I’m the lonesome fashion designer," she explains to me amongst the crowd of spectators.


Growing up in the West Midlands in a long line of female doctors, for Autumn Winter 2019 Lele draws from the “powerful matriarchs” that raised her. The collection takes her signature formula of ultra-feminine drapery and functional tailored silhouettes to a new sensual level. She explains, “I wanted to take a different direction with cut and silhouette […] This collection is super different to my previous ones, I feel like I’m finding my rhythm and my flow.”


Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2016 and debuting at Fashion East that same year, this season Lele reaffirms that she no longer needs help from anyone else in order to stand out, expressing, “I’m exploring my own territory now and by showing solo I can really emphasise that.”


Her AW19 collection was confident and considered with a bold colour pallet and meticulous fabric choices, blending warm terracottas and earthy tones in satin and utilitarian nylon, with injections of red, powder blue and coral in gossamer mesh, draped and ruched diagonally around the body. A nod to last season’s Sari inspired wide-necked silhouettes.


Texture and tone were amplified as cotton-backed black rubber was worn over red mesh and emerald green nylon, trimmed with burnt orange mohair fur. Armour-like in appearance, mesh flared trousers were worn under an intricate metal apron, made in collaboration in knitwear designer Serena Gill. Other skirts were fastened with poppers and zips, emphasising the functional yet sensual air to the collection.


Inspired by the iconography of the NHS, more polished rubber appeared but this time printed all over with the medical cross, an ode to her family of doctors. Other prints were sourced from archive Indian textiles, including a dainty army-green deconstructed floral print, which appeared in mesh throughout the collection.


Her signature fluro made a reappearance, this time in one instance only. A satin neon yellow dress that is ruched and gathered around the shoulders and bust of the model, and tied at the hips, presenting an overtly feminine silhouette.


This season, the 31-year-old designer has yet again executed a collection; through which she has been able to explore her own British Asian cultural identity and upbringing, dissecting the codes of Anglo-Indian dress. A theme that is present throughout her previous collections, which some how she manages to successfully reimagine and reinvent season after season.

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