Supriya Lele: ‘I wanted to create something positive, playful and fresh’
For A/W 2021, Supriya Lele offers zesty-hued party looks for post-lockdown living
Over the past 12 months, Supriya Lele has seen clothes as a way to bring optimism into our much-changed and oft-mundane lives. When her all-female team began returning to her south London studio last summer, after the United Kingdom’s first lockdown, she observed how they began incremently wearing more glamorous get-ups. For Lele’s A/W 2021 collection, unveiled in March, the designer was intent on bringing joyful energy into an offering of primsatic pick-me-up pieces, for post-pandemic partying. ‘I wanted to create something positive, playful and fresh,’ she says.
Lele’s lo-fi, form-celebrating clothing nods to dressing codes of the 1990s and 2000s, bringing together the heavy-metal band motifs and tribal tattoo prints synonymous with Lele’s head-banging adolescence, with ruched, rippled and twisted silhouettes that nod not only to Y2K dressing, but also the traditional tied and draped silhouettes integral to her British-Indian heritage. Skilled at fluidly forming clothing onto the body, Lele is also an acclaimed colourist, and for A/W 2021 she turned her attention to conventionally bad-taste tones. Custom lime, bubblegum pink, tobacco and cherry colours are seen in silhouetttes that have a luxurious lilt, like pooling flared trousers, peekaboo ruched mini skirts, dramatic décolletage halter necks and androgynous overcoats. ‘I was looking at football strips in my colour referencing,’ Lele says. ‘They’re a great way of seeing how tones that shouldn’t work together do.’
‘It’s really important to see pieces through the process on different body shapes and heights’ – Supriya Lele
There was also an element of experimentation in Lele’s A/W 2021 collection, which saw a focus on hand work and a desire to reinvent ‘old-fashioned’ fabrics. She developed a devoré with a tactile transparent pattern, referencing a traditional Indian folkloric snake motif, which originates in Madhya Pradesh, the Central Indian state where Lele’s father’s family were born. These screen-printed shapes were painted with flecks of midnight-blue paint and also evoked 1990s and 2000s tribal tattoo prints, which the designer alluded to last season. ‘We also played around with crochet,’ Lele adds. From her studio, the designer hand-crocheted bras, pants and halternecks, which trace the contours of the body.
In the last year, most of us have acclimatised to life in loungewear, and Lele was keen to incorproate our new required sense of comfort into her designs. Stretch jersey features predominantly in the collection, and the designer’s female team tried and tested out her creations. ‘It’s really important to see pieces through the process on different body shapes and heights. We need to see that they work on us,’ Lele says. ‘We’ve been in some form of lockdown for so long now. We all want to get out there and start looking good.’ §