Designer of the moment Priya Ahluwalia reimagines Mulberry’s totes and scarves with seventies chic.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Priya Ahluwalia ends up winning the Euros: she’s currently – and very much deservedly – bagging everything else. She’s already won the LVMH Prize and the Queen Elizabeth II Award for Fashion Design, awarded thanks to her vibrant, sustainably-minded pieces inspired by her Indian and Nigerian heritage. Just yesterday, she added the BFC/GQ Designer of the Year Award to her concave, heaving shelf.
It’s no surprise, then, that Mulberry have tapped her for their latest capsule, remixing the Portobello Tote and a handful of silk scarves. Part of the brand’s half-century celebrations, Ahluwalia was inspired by braiding patterns and the importance of hair in the Black community, weaving a narrative of protest and expression via contrasting wave prints. Custom-made badges embroidered with protest and afro comb motifs are sewn onto each bag, peppering the swirling, seventies-inspired patterns and canerow-inspired seam lines.
Naturally, the collection is sustainably-produced, crafted in Mulberry’s carbon-neutral factory in Somerset, turning leather and fabric rags into luxe, elevated riches. Like a mixed mushroom risotto, there are Portobello bags of all sizes: oversized, normal and, for the first time, a ‘Mini’ silhouette. Each bag is complemented by a 100% organic silk scarf, ready to be origamied into a bandana or headscarf.
Two films – Parts of Me and Tools of Expression – have also been produced alongside the SS22 collection and capsule, celebrating the cultural power of Black hair and exploring society’s discriminative perceptions of it. Mulberry have signed up to the Halo Code to show direct, active support, a pledge that supports members of the Black community in wearing their hair naturally, without prejudice or restrictions.
‘As a Nigerian and Indian woman, I wanted to focus on the artistry and rituals around Afro-Caribbean hair as well as ideas about hair in Punjab, India,’ Priya Ahluwalia said in a statement. ‘It’s something I find really important and a conversation I want to amplify as hair is often used as a tool of discrimination. The artistry, the politics, self-expression of Black hair, the way it’s a language, is so important to highlight and discuss.’
We’re not going to beat around the Mulberry bush here: we’re obsessed with what Ahluwalia’s done, her eye for decadent, nostalgic patterns and rich, tactile fabrics turning this Portobello into a stone-cold classic. The new Mini model, too, is the ideal across-the-shoulder companion for summer festivities, thankfully not shrunk to the size of circa-2019 nano bags. On the note of the Euros, we don’t give a fuck about the football: this bag’s coming home with us.
The Mulberry x Ahluwalia capsule is now available worldwide, ready to bag online or in stores. Scarves start at £150, Portobello Totes start at £595.