At first glance, it is unlikely to assume that London-based designer Supriya Lele’s Spring 2020 presentation at London Fashion Week was inspired by her Indian heritage. The ready-to-wear collection was a compendium of soft, sensual punk-inspired outerwear, sheer dresses, translucent tops layered with bralettes and several separates in black.
Lele’s journey to St Joseph’s Girls School in Jabalpur has inspired her upcoming collection
But look closely, and one would also notice overcoats crafted in Madras checks, midriff-baring draped ensembles that could remind you of the sari—a garment that is quintessentially Indian—and pops of vibrant colours like fuchsia and neon green playing peekaboo with her otherwise minimal designs. It is this duality that has become the foundation of Lele’s namesake label and has helped her carve a niche for herself in London’s dynamic fashion circuit. Born in a family of doctors, 33-year-old Lele grew up in a village in the West Midlands. She graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, worked in London and New York for fashion designer-turned-sculptor Nicole Farhi and Roksanda Ilincic.
Supriya Lele‘s Autumn/Winter 2019 campaign
Lele’s interest in fashion began at an early age. “I was interested in clothes during my childhood. My parents do not come from an artistic background, but they were always interested in style. Fashion was a natural progression for me,” she says.
In 2016, she graduated with a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art and was then scouted by Lulu Kennedy, the founder, of Fashion East, a British incubator for upcoming designers. More recently, she was shortlisted for the LVMH Prize 2020.
With her oeuvre of work, Lele wants to present an alternative to how a second-generation immigrant like herself navigates between two identities—British and Indian. “I use my heritage in a modern way,” she explains, “by looking at cut, colour and fabrication. Occasion wise, I like to mix high and low fabrics together, whether it’s silk and rubber or mesh and tulle with Indian fabrics and clothes, that often have this richness.”
For 2020 she’s excited to continue doing what she does best—crafting clothing. “I feel like I’m very lucky that I can continue to grow. And, I’m also excited about maybe taking a holiday. A break might be good,” she laughs
Photographs: Will Grundy (Supriya Lele), Jamie Hawkesworth (Supriya Lele campaign), Getty (Bella Hadid), Instagram (backstage), Spring 2020 (Imaxtree)