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‘Jalebi’ by Priya Ahluwalia

The London-based designer and White City member shares the inspirations behind her latest project ‘Jalebi’ and how she marries the digital and print world

‘Jalebi’ is your second book after ‘Sweet Lassi’ in 2018, and you complemented its release with a 3D exhibition. There is an interesting relationship between something so tactile and another that is virtual – how did you decide on that?

Priya Ahluwalia: 'They complement each other, for sure. I think the book is good for someone who prefers to delve into the project and have a physical experience for a record. The digital exhibition, however, came out of a necessity to present the work during the pandemic. I'm not fully settled on the virtual show concept for the future. There is definitely a place for theatrics and the human connection in fashion, so I'd prefer maybe to introduce a collection through a film in the future. I know fashion shows receive criticism for how sustainable (or not) they are, but first I think we should go after those big online businesses that sell a dress for $5.'

You shot the locals at Southall alongside professional models. Beyond your role in fashion today, tell us about your experience of working with the people you approached to photograph them.

PA: 'Professional casting came out of a collaboration between me, Laurence, and a casting agent. But in terms of street casting, the process depended on explaining ourselves to the people we wanted to capture. Take a look at the man with a white T-shirt and gold necklace, for example. I told the team we have to include him in the project and I went up to him with the right approach. We had to be aware of each person's personality and speak with them to explain our intention, while giving directions in front of the lens. It's an emotional process to shoot someone, and we made sure the result elevates them.'

Click here to shop the book 'Jalebi' by Priya Ahluwalia. Experience the virtual show at sohohouse.com

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