New products / Events / Fashion house - 9/6/19
Alighieri’s SS20 collection will explore the notion of “home”. Dante Alighieri was in exile, when
writing the “Divina Commedia”in the 1300s; longing for his native Florence, pining for a place that
he no longer recognised. This sense of displacement and longing is ever-present in today’s
political climate, and has always been a refrain in my own life. Having grown up in Zambia until I
was 8 years old, when I moved to London, I was acutely aware that I didn’t “belong”. My
grandparents had fled from India, when their village was lost in the partition, and re-rooted in
southern Africa, where my parents spent their childhood. When asked, “Where are you from?”, as a
teenager and even as a young adult, I would feel a familiar fear that would present itself as a
hesitation in my voice and a shiver down my spine. I never knew what to say, I didn’t have a
one-word answer, and I was used to being cut short if I said, “I’m from London.” That answer did
not make sense to the person asking. They would re-phrase: “Yes, but where are you actually from...
originally?” “Africa”, I would respond. Met again with a bewildered look, I would then be prompted
to explain, “well, my grandparents grew up in India, my parents were born in Zambia, I was born in
London, but spent my childhood in Africa, but my adult life is very much that of a Londoner, so I
guess, I’m from a bit of everywhere.”
I longed to be able to answer this simple question with one word, as my friends would: “Italy”, “New
York”, “London”. The sense of not belonging to any one place had, in all honesty, always made me feel
inferior to those around me. Quietly, it festered, as a little flaw or imperfection in my character. Since
the launch of Alighieri - talismans, which are essentially little fragments from all over the world,
tied together with chains - I have recognised the beauty in not being able to answer with one word.
Through the brand, I have become tied and connected through chains, to the most interesting of
people, many of whom also feel unsure about where home really is.
Home, perhaps, is not one place or country. Perhaps we find a feeling of home through the rituals
we create for ourselves; a sentiment of being rooted or grounded. The SS20 collection highlights the
way in which we build homes, relationships and family trees through jewellery, passing them to the
people we love, carrying them daily as reminders of our past experiences and promises for future
To posit the question, “Where is home?”, I travelled back to Zambia, the vivid backdrop of my
childhood, to shoot the new collection. I wanted to place these images alongside portraits of my
62 year old mother, as a celebration of her roots, and to underline the beautiful way in which the
Alighieri community is an anthology of human beings, of many ages and places. We are all collecting
fragments from the places we’ve been, and trying to piece them together to create a sense of identity.
This season, I’m collecting a patchwork of my cultures, memories and rituals, tying them together
through woven chains, strings and links, to create a home of my own.