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British RoyalsCoronavirusThe Wessexes

The Countess of Wessex presents the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design

Photo: Benjamin Wareing

The Countess of Wessex presented the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to Priya Ahluwalia on Tuesday evening.

In a Zoom call, Sophie and Ahluwalia chatted about her fashion line. Ahluwalia is the designer behind an eponymous menswear line inspired by her Indian-Nigerian heritage. She also uses vintage materials and champions diversity and sustainability in her practices.  

“It’s always been a case of using what’s directly available to me. A lot of students are naturally resourceful because they ought to be, it’s more cost effective than other routes. But if you’re a huge brand, you’ve got a culture that will take a lot of time to undo, you have to implement positive practice at every level of business,” Ahluwalia said.

“They could start by looking at their stock and thinking who could repurpose it. It could be a good opportunity to work with a younger designer—London is full of them, so they can take their pick.”

The British Fashion Council announced the news on Tuesday, writing that Ahluwalia received the award 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.”

In a statement, Caroline Rush, the Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council said, “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 also spoke about how she imagines post-coronavirus fashion, saying, “I really do believe that after the pandemic—well, not after, because I think it will be ongoing—that people will just want to enjoy themselves, whether that’s through clothing, self-expression, or just going out for a meal. I’ve something coming out at the end of March, beginning of April which I can’t talk about yet—which has definitely been informed by the fact that I’m desperate to go out and party again!”

The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design has been awarded annually since 2018 by a female member of the Royal Family to a designer who is displaying how sustainability and forward-thinking is changing the fashion industry.

The Queen presented the inaugural award in 2018 to Richard Quinn. The Duchess of Cornwall presented the award in 2019 to Bethany Williams, and The Princess Royal presented the award last year to Rosh Mahtani.

The award itself was designed by Angela Kelly, The Queen’s personal assistant and senior dresser, and is inspired by the Queen Elizabeth Rose. It is hand-produced by Lucy Price at Bauhinia Studios in Birmingham.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.