Supriya Lele, who has been absent from the London Fashion Week calendar, came back as if she had never left, slipping right into the schedule.
Her show at the Barbican Centre was fitting, as the Indian British designer has pivoted toward more than just the runway. During her time off she’s set up a gallery, Qrystal Partners, with her curator friend Donald Ryan and Parinaz Mogadassi, who owns Tramps, a gallery with outposts in New York and London.
Their plan with the space is to create and curate with exhibitions being held in the space and used as a hub for Lele’s design process. It’s where she rethought her business model.
“I definitely needed the time out, to get a grip on what was going on with my business, and to understand how I could structure it going forward,” the designer said in a preview. She’s starting from scratch by focusing on the foundations and is on the hunt for new stockists.
For spring 2024, she looked to Indian gods and goddesses, classical Indian sculpture and introduced accessories such as handbags and belts — which can be clearly traced in her past work.
Her flat handbags with a drape effect, leather straps and a row of gold charms resembling the trishula, or trident, carried by the Hindu god Shiva have been produced in pink, black, blue, navy, beige and white. Meanwhile, the belts feature a swirling, maze-shaped gold hardware. They can be worn frontward, backward or even as body jewelry, as seen in the show.
Lele’s skills lie in draping, color and layering, especially when she incorporates sari-like elements.
“It goes right back to my ideas of the sari, the whole notion of concealing, revealing and showing a little bit of belly and back with a wisp of this and that,” she said.
On the runway, the clothes came off as calm, but in good time, that pace will pick up as Lele is putting new building blocks together. She has come back more determined and confident as a result of a stint with Victoria’s Secret, which validated her ideas and dreams for the future.