On the first day of London Fashion Week, as the city settled into the high-velocity reality of its next few days, three dancers in latex crops and ballooning, inflatable pants ducked and wove around each other on the runway at the Old Selfridges Hotel. Guests of Harri, the label by Kerala-born, London-based designer Harikrishnan Keezhathil Surendran Pillai, watched on. Models’ hair was slick-wet, their skin glistening. And their clothes, in spite of their bulk, moved with them fluidly.
While performative stunts aren’t unexpected on runways anymore (Elena Velez had her models wrestle in mud at NYFW just last week), Pillai’s decision to incorporate performance art was shrewd. It seemed to answer the inevitable question—‘How does anyone walk in those?’—with flippant courage: ‘Forget walking. Look how they dance!’
For spring/summer 2024, Pillai embraced the inflatable silhouettes which won him notoriety but also looked beyond the expected: his collection included bursts of neon green, most notably in stage-ready dresses and skirts, and he experimented with relaxed suiting. His favourite piece, he said backstage, was the collection’s opening oyster white skirt. “I particularly like the panels that I constructed to create a new silhouette that I hadn’t tried before,” he explained. It was a bold show, and he took risks. But that’s exactly what got him here, debuting his collection in London, as one of the the British Fashion Council’s lauded New Gen designers. “[The show] came to life with the support of the British Fashion Council, and my growing team of multi-talented individuals,” he said. “[It] represents my journey from Kerala to London.”
Supriya Lele has always been interested in the secrets of the sari, but this season represented an elevation of her signature drapes and folds. For her spring/summer 2024 presentation, dangerously low-slung skirts and barely-there tanks hung over one another on the runway, revealing and concealing in a finely choreographed balance. She’s always been good at the kind of sexiness that doesn’t quite meet the eye, that vanishes before you can pin it down. Part of that is to do with Lele’s mastery of draping, which she used to new effect here—her wispy, chiffon skirts came back, reinvigorated with sari-pleat reminiscent folds, or metallic, thong-style accoutrements, but there were also floaty jodhpurs, split down the side, and powdery blue, party-ready minis.