British heritage brand Mulberry has unveiled the first of its designer collaborations to celebrate its 50th anniversary with designer Priya Ahluwalia.
London-based designer Priya Ahluwalia has reimagined Mulberry’s Portobello Tote and an assortment of scarves in her signature vibrant aesthetic. The designs are influenced by her fascination with hair as a means of identity, protest and expression, drawing on her mixed Nigerian-Indian heritage, both cultures in which hair holds such importance.
The collection celebrates the “artistry, rituals and symbolism of Afro-Caribbean hair and Priya’s own personal narrative,” explains Mulberry in the press release, which is brought to life through the capsule’s unique design, bold colour and striking motifs.
The bespoke ‘wave’ print created for the collection is inspired by the techniques of braided Black hair and features in braid-inspired seam lines and patchwork details. While the 60s and 70s protest symbols of pride, such as the Afro comb and braided hair silhouettes, are purposed into custom-made embroidered badges that decorate an assortment of the bag styles.
Commenting on her collaboration with Mulberry, Priya Ahluwalia, creative director at Ahluwalia, said in a statement: “Mulberry is a brand that I have memories of from childhood, ever since I used to borrow my Mum’s own Mulberry bag, so this was an opportunity to collaborate with a brand that is very meaningful to me.
“I haven’t yet had a chance to make accessories and I think with Mulberry x Ahluwalia, we’ve brought together our mutual values to create beautiful pieces that people can buy and cherish forever.”
Mulberry x Priya Ahluwalia launches
The limited-edition capsule heroes the Portobello Tote, originally launched by Mulberry in 2019 as its first 100 percent sustainable leather bag, and features four oversized Portobello Totes, five Portobello Totes and three Mini Portobello Totes, a new size created especially for the collaboration.
The Mulberry x Ahluwalia capsule is crafted in Mulberry’s carbon-neutral Somerset Factories, using only repurposed fabrics and leathers that have been reworked for the capsule, meaning the bags are created in limited quantities, added Mulberry.
The bags are complemented by four 100 percent organic silk scarf designs, specially created in a 70x70 dimension designed so they can be worn as a bandana or headscarf.
Mulberry chief executive Thierry Andretta, added: “We are thrilled to have collaborated with Priya as part of Mulberry Editions during our 50th anniversary year. Ahluwalia’s bold creative voice and her innovative approach to sustainability is entirely aligned with our Made to Last values and adds an exciting new chapter to our rich history of collaborations.”
The collaboration was unveiled as part of Ahluwalia’s spring/summer 2022 collection and womenswear debut during London Fashion Week, where the designer showcased a new film, ‘Parts of Me’ directed by BAFTA-nominated director Akinola Davies Jr., as a powerful ode to the art of Black hair as a potent symbol of identity, protest and self-expression.
As an extension of the project, Ahluwalia and Mulberry have also collaborated on a second film, ‘Tools of Expression,’ continuing the storytelling around the powerful inspirations behind the collection to drive the cultural conversation around Black hair. The film spotlights three hair stories from cross-disciplinary talents in an intimate salon setting, in conversation about how their hair frames their personal identity, what their hair means to them, societal misconceptions around Black hair and how it should continue to be celebrated. As part of the collaborative message around pride and beauty in Black hair, Mulberry said that it was added to its own policy and has signed up to the Halo Code, a set of commitments focused on creating a future without race-based hair discrimination. The Mulberry Edition collaboration with Ahluwalia will be followed up with capsules designed by Richard Malone in September and Nicholas Daley in November. The Mulberry x Ahluwalia collection launches on Mulberry.com from June 14 and in stores globally on June 15.