One of Central Saint Martins’ most funky graduate collections this year? Adnan Salman Jalal’s ‘love letter to Gandhi’ – a pre-celebration of India’s 70 years of independence which will take place next year. He looked at old India, referencing Maharajas and Mughal India – and combined it with eclectic English style icons such as Helena Bonham Carter, English oddness, Frumpiness, The British Raj as well as some of his other inspirations such as sunflowers (his favourite), Madonna’s Erotica era, Winona Ryder, Juergen Teller and movies by Tim Burton; bringing it in the end all back to himself and the desire to create his dream wardrobe. The collection swooped the runner-up L’Oreal Professional Young Talent Award a couple of months ago – as Adnan says: “JAI HIND!”
“I draw the line on making things very abstract like sculpture or something that looks like you’d get laid in!”
How did your collection develop during the course of the year? Did you face any serious challenges during the production process?
At the beginning I was more into creating 6 looks consisting of jumpers and skirts, as it’s what I love and what I constantly wear. However looking at my research, playing around with my swatches, styling vintage, it changed. It just made more sense to create a dress heavy collection with separates infused into it – treating it very much like a collage.
What do your design ideas mostly revolve around, do you have a certain theme that you usually return to?
I think it always comes down to something a little jarring, quite melancholic even. All my projects have that slight oddness to it, something that makes it slightly uncomfortable to the eye. I always do something wearable though, something real. I draw the line on making things very abstract like sculpture or something that looks like you’d get laid in!
How does the conversation between 2D and 3D work for you, how much does one inform the other?
I’m big on collage, so all my sketches have elements of collage from swatches or research images, but then combining them with 3D work from vintage and repeating it. I like things that look touched, and by treating it as a collage you get that vibe, and the 2D and 3D work look consistent.
Do you feel that your collection somehow reflects who you are as a designer?
Yes, I am my collection. I always hear people ask ‘what’s Adnan about?’, I’m quite private and actually very shy. My collection is so personal and almost autobiographical that I hope when you’re looking at it, you can actually see me and understand what I’m about. I like to describe it as ‘Disheveled Opulence’, that’s my style, what I’m about and what I want out there.
When do you think your identity as a designer really took shape and a “concrete” form?
My aesthetic really took off in second year, it was because of Sarah Gresty. She really believed in what I was about and really just told me I had to be honest and do what was real. I think in first year, I was trying to do different things, things that I didn’t even believe in or actually even liked, but thought that’s what I was supposed to do and kind of follow a certain ‘CSM’ style – but that doesn’t actually exist.
What did you do during your placement year?
I interned at Proenza Schouler and Céline, both in the Knitwear department. I really loved it at both places and learnt an incredible amount. Both are two different brands in terms of style and concept, but both have that cool, creative but clean and coveted aesthetic.
Graduating is about the scariest thing for an undergraduate student to think of. How was that experience for you?
I felt lost. It’s going from an all high to nothing, literally nothing. You immerse yourself into this world you create in the year, pushing everything and anything, colouring outside the lines and then once the collection is done, the show is over – that’s it. There’s nothing to put all that energy and love you have into.
“In first year, I was trying to do different things, things that I didn’t even believe in or actually even liked, but thought that’s what I was supposed to do and kind of follow a certain ‘CSM’ style – but that doesn’t actually exist.”
Do you think you will stay in fashion? If so, how would you like to be working professionally as a designer?
I hope so, I’d love to work as a knitwear designer, ideally work in a place which is true to me, sell my soul and stay there forever!
What are your plans for the immediate future?
Growing a moustache, a swirly Rajasthani one, but it’s difficult as it’s like puberty hasn’t hit me!
What does your Oscar speech sound like?
Ok… this will be long… I want to thank my parents and sisters for everything – for putting up with my noisey knitting all night whilst listening to Madonna’s Erotica album on loop on full volume – but really for influencing me with their strong work ethic! My grandparents, both from my dad’s and mum’s side for being the main source of inspiration and for being fabulous and for basically being ‘INDIA’.
Thank you to the FANTASTIC technicians, Rodney, Julia and Denise for being bonkers knitters! Imogen, Tansy, Rita and June for being crazy printers! Teresa, Joan, Shiela, Jan and Charlie for being insane sewers! A special thank you to Tamsin and Patrick for helping me in translating my ideas and sketches into actual patterns and having the patience and teaching me quirky pattern cutting magic tricks! I’m actually blown away!
I also really want to thank from the bottom of my heart, Cecile, Francis, Harry and Lena for helping me create something much more than just clothes, helping me tell my story and really caring for everything as much as I did! Also I must thank Lena and Harry again for not only help make it but also being the girl/boy of my collection from the first fittings to the shoot and for making it look incredible and giving so much punch to it, and of course strutting along with Grace, Paula, Emily, Alex and Céline – I really loved your inner ‘Winona’, you all looked beautiful and gave it so much life!
I am eternally grateful and owe everything to Sarah, Louis and Willie, thank you for believing in my work, my aesthetic but mostly in me! It means so much to have someone truly believe in me and always be there and allow me to have the freedom to do what I want, you guys made me feel so so special. My collection really wouldn’t of existed without your love!!! I LOVE YOU!
Finally I want to dedicate the whole damn collection to Gandhi!
Words Matilda Söderberg