The Countess of Wessex presents the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to Priya Ahluwalia at London Fashion Week

By Heather Cichowski

London Fashion Week was very different this season due to the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing, but the event still closed out with the announcement of the winner of the prestigious the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. The Countess of Wessex presented the design prize to Priya Ahluwalia via video link on behalf of Her Majesty.

"Congratulations to Priya Ahluwalia, who has been named as this year’s winner of The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design," announced The Royal Family's Instagram on Feb. 23.

The message continued, "Priya is the fourth winner of the award, which was first presented by The Queen at London Fashion Week in 2018.

"The Award recognizes the role of the fashion industry in society, and the talent of young British designers."

Sophie, who is patron of the London College of Fashion, spoke with Priya and the British Fashion Council's Caroline Rush, about the impact of COVID-19 on the fashion industry as well as the designer's influences and inspiration.

Priya Ahluwalia speaking to Sophie, Countess of Wessex via video link as she received the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design during LFW February 2021. Photo: © Chris Jackson/BFC/Getty Images

Priya's namesake label, Ahluwalia, creates menswear pieces using dead stock and locally sourced repurposed vintage materials with modern silhouettes to produce sustainable-focused collections that also draw on her Indian and Nigerian heritage.

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"With sustainability and ethical practice always at the heart of the design process, Ahluwalia has been chosen for her focus on craftsmanship and community," wrote the BFC about the prize winner's collections.

"Her sustainably minded menswear collections, made of dead stock and repurposed locally sourced vintage materials, combine elements and influences from her Nigerian and Indian heritage, making her designs truly unique."

The fashion designer showcased her stunning prize. Photo: © Chris Jackson/BFC/Getty Images

Priya founded Ahluwalia after she graduated from the MA Menswear course at The University of Westminster in 2018. The designer has since won the H&M Design Award 2019, and was a recipient of BFC’s 2019/2020 NEWGEN initiative. The latter is a designer development scheme that globally supports emerging talent. In 2020, Ahluwalia was honoured with the LVMH Prize 2020 and was a People Honouree at The Fashion Awards.

The Countess of Wessex showed her support for British design during the virtual engagement by wearing a long-sleeved, turtleneck Victoria Beckham maxi dress which features a scribble print inspired by the Jazz Age.

The Countess of Wessex donned a patterned Victoria Beckham dress for the virtual awards presentation. Photo: © BFC

In 2020, Princess Anne made her London Fashion Week debut when she presented the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to Rosh Mahtani of Alighieri Jewellery. The Princess Royal serves as President of the UK Fashion and Textile Association.

Rosh Mahtani of Alighieri Jewellery receiving The Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design from Princess Anne in February 2020. Photo: © Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images for BFC

The Queen Elizabeth II Award was launched in 2018 "in recognition of the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy." It is given to a womenswear, menswear or accessories designer who demonstrates a high level of talent and originality, plus, showcases strong sustainable practices and/or value to the community.

Previous award winners are womenswear designer Richard Quinn in 2018 and gender-neutral designer Bethany Williams in 2019.

See below to watch the presentation of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design:

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