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The Enigmatic Gaze: Anika Leila's Fusion of Faces and Sartorial Sustainability
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Faces have long held a captivating presence in fashion, with designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Raf Simons, Prada, and Jean Paul Gaultier employing them not only to elicit emotional responses but also as a means for conveying political messages. Central Saint Martins graduate Anika Leila carries on this tradition, masterfully merging face-inspired designs with sustainable materials and artistic sophistication.

Born and raised in West London, Anika's early fascination with faces was nurtured by a childhood game, aptly titled Anika's Odyssey, which featured otherworldly characters with peculiar expressions. This, along with her familial connection to the craft, laid the foundation for her future in fashion. Her grandmother, a skilled seamstress and significant presence in her life, imparted the knowledge and organic methods of creating garments by hand – a testament to the Indian community's gesture of love through handcrafted attire.

"I truly believe there is no greater muse than you’re inner child and growing up I have always been taught about the importance of sustainable design by my parents and other influencers and I feel now more than ever it’s super important."

The alchemy of transforming expired makeup into otherworldly prints permeates Anika's creative process. With a keen awareness of the wastefulness engendered by the beauty industry, she began collecting discarded products from friends and social media followers. Through trial and error, she developed a non-toxic sealant that preserves her prints and renders her pieces hand-washable, imbuing them with an ephemeral quality that belies their permanence.

"If I’m thinking long term, I want to be able to say with confidence that my brand, to any extent, has disrupted the current destructive path we are on within the fashion industry."

"I would like to be able to provide a realistic, affordable option for consumers to choose something created with ethics and the environment in mind, over fast fashion."

From the tessellated scraps of unsellable fabrics to the patchwork-like construction reminiscent of Y2K-era aesthetics, her work resonates with the echoes of designers like Nensi Dojaka and Emma Godmundson.

Throughout the annals of fashion history, faces have adorned the work of legendary designers. Elsa Schiaparelli's surreal expressions, Alexander McQueen's haunting skull motif, and Givenchy's modern interpretations of abstract portraiture all bear witness to the lasting magnetism of the human face. Anika Leila embraces this legacy, revitalizing it with a keen awareness of our ecological responsibilities.

When asked what success looks like for her, she says:

"It means adhering to my initial values and ideas that I had as a child and student and now have as a start-up brand owner. This means growing my brand further while also maintaining my brand morale of working as sustainably and ethically as possible in every sense while embracing more personal storylines."

All images courtesy of Anika Leila.
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