There’s a sense that Supriya Lele has properly found her stride now—a confidence that comes from knowing she has the enthusiasm of friends behind her. A good sprinkling of that sisterhood was at the Belvoir Castle wedding of Tish Weinstock and Tom Guinness on Halloween weekend. “The dress code was black tie gothic. It was fun,” the designer said. She made her own dress for the occasion—long, black, with tiny side-ties, a fishnet under-dress, and a back twisted to reveal skin.
There’s a shorter version in her spring lookbook. As she points out, the ties are there to adjust, according to how daring, or not, the owner might be feeling. There are a lot of those sorts of devices—adjustable apron dresses, tied halter-neck bodysuits, and ‘layering pieces’ going on in her design. “Working with sheer fabrics is a challenging thing,” she rightly observes. “They have little layers of linings and slips underneath, so you don’t have to show too much.”
Lele’s handling of the finer points of skimpy dressing is an obvious cause of her growing popularity. Body-display is ragingly fashionable now, and likely to hit further heights by the time people like Lele’s friends will be migrating to Mediterranean resorts next year. What sets her style apart from her London contemporaries Nensi Dojaka and Charlotte Knowles are the elements of print and drape she connects with her Indian heritage.
She pointed out the block-prints on the cotton shirting in the collection: “It’s done in India, in Madhya Pradesh, my family’s region.” The fishnet pieces—including the improbable but certainly Instagrammable luxury of boot-cut leggings—are also “embroidered with tiny sequins, in India.”
Lele’s natural bent has always been to slip in a modernist approach to the tradition of sari-draping and bra-tops, not that it will ever read literally. This season, her shirts come with ribbony tails that are designed to make the garments knottable in a playful way, a complement to her adjustable jersey bodysuits—or is it swimwear? Multiple choice staves off summer fashion boredom, at any rate. “It looks very simple but it’s not, of course,” Lele smiled serenely.