A Ramp of Fashion CFW DAY 2

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By Khalidha Naushad

In recent weeks, ‘Colombo Fashion Week’ (CFW) has been the talk of the town. With many people I know grumbling about not being able to see it, I had the good fortune to be able to attend Day Two of CFW at the Shangri-La, Colombo. For those who are new, Colombo Fashion Week is a developmental project that aims to drive progressive change in every aspect of the fashion industry in Sri Lanka. As its official website states, its mission is to establish, develop and maintain an efficient fashion eco-system that incubates the best of Sri Lankan fashion design before it is presented to the world.

The theme for this season’s show was ‘Green Conscious, Earth Sensitive,’ which focuses directly forthrightly on the development of a fashion ecosystem that prioritises environmental and social well-being. CFW aspires to assist Emerging Designers in developing a framework that will inspire and motivate designers to prioritise responsibility and sustainability in their design philosophy.

The diverse designer collections I got to see, the models and excellent lighting made it a feast for my eyes, even if it wasn’t as intriguing as I had hoped. Dimuthu Sahabandu, Asanka De Mel, Kamil Hewavitharana, and Divya Jayawickrama featured in the first half of the show.

Dimuthu Sahabandu

Dimuthu Sahabandu, a BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design graduate from Singapore’s LaSalle College of the Arts, kicked off the show. For his Spring Summer collection, Dimuthu draws influence from Greek mythology’s Singing Sirens. His collection features a variety of one-of-a-kind pieces with up-cycled materials and distinctive surface details. The collection, which is mostly comprised of evening designs, can also be deconstructed and used as separates, extending the life and utility of these handcrafted clothes. It would be remiss of me not to highlight his mastery of colour. Dimuthu and his collections were exquisite and undoubtedly a fantastic start to the event, since he is known for his beautiful beadwork and elegant craftsmanship.

LOVI by Asanka De Mel

The latest collection from LOVI Sarong brings the brand’s fun attitude to yoga, work from home, the beach, travel, and weddings. LOVI is on a mission to introduce us to the thrill of sarongs by providing a variety of unique designs that are tailored to modern lifestyles. LOVI seeks to contribute to the creation of a new Sri Lankan apparel identity. Handmade clothing is included in the collection, which is created from naturally biodegradable cottons and silks rather than earth-clogging polyesters, nylons, and spandex textiles. Asanka De Mel, a Harvard graduate who left Silicon Valley for a design studio in Sri Lanka, is on the cusp of realising his long-held dream of fusing technology and design to create a revolutionary fashion statement in Sri Lanka and around the world. Innovation is his raison d’être.

Kamil Hewavitharana

Kamil Hewavitharana’s collection was inspired by the natural beauty of our emerald island – from the lush green, of the hillsides and forests, to the crystal-clear waters and unpolluted skies – in the thought of a new concept for Colombo Fashion Week 2022. The show showcased beautiful colours that were inspired by our mother earth, shades of green and blue. Kamil’s collection embraces colour through tie dye liquid prints and featuring garments crafted using up cycled fabric.

Divya Jayawickrama

Divya Jayawickrama’s collection, which was inspired by silhouettes and patterns from the 1960s and included motifs of the Sri Lankan native flower ‘Heen Bovita,’ caught the audience’s attention. This year’s collection incorporated classic block printing while merging voluminous, traditional formalwear and retro aesthetics, drawing inspiration from fashion materials from throughout the world. Divya used the Sri Lankan flower as an influence for her floral prints, alongside 1960s most famous printing and patterns like hound’s tooth pattern, leopard print, and tartan pattern, in order to bring out the beauty of Sri Lankan nature.

Despite a few designers that showed their collections were accused of ripping off designs from international designers, all four designers I saw gave colour and beauty to Day two of CFW with their own concepts and original collections. They not only enhanced the night with their designs, but they also focused on the necessity of conserving the beauty of our island, as well as the fashion sense of the past and environmental preservation.

By Shafiya Nawzer 

In the second segment of the show, designers Urvashi Kaur, Achala Leekoh and Amilani Perera showcased their collection. 

Urvashi Kaur

Urvashi Kaur is an Indian and environmentally conscious designer, the label ‘Urvashi Kaur’ is a trans-seasonal, adaptable and gender inclusive label that embodies global ideology with mindful consumption and ethical creation. Urvashi’s latest collection paid homage to the architectural marvel, ‘Tower of Shadows’. From proportion to perspective, texture to structure, these influences push the collection in a newer, more minimal direction that celebrates modern India. Embracing the concept of slow production, the collection focuses on artisanal textiles and naturally dyed weaves from across the country India.

The collection merges Indian and western sensibility with an emphasis on distinctive design and styling. The ready-to-wear ensembles are dipped in cheerful, eclectic graphics on luxurious fabrics. The geometric prints give the collection a resort-ready update with soft blouses, breezy dresses, tailored jackets and co-ord sets. The pieces are rooted in a minimalist aesthetic, punctuated with textured details. Minimalistic dresses with dart details, constructed evening jackets with and dresses with statement sleeves. 

Achala Leekoh

Achala Leekoh latest collection featured prints and patterns which encompass a range of fluid motifs, including florals and a crossover to the connection restored with nature. The outfits were burst of colour and celebration of colour mixing. The label takes a modern approach to resident dyeing in shades of pink, white, lilac and blues. Their feminine full-length dresses with slits and overlap details make for ideal light-weight evening wear, or update your wardrobe with flared skirts, embroidered designs and structured flowy dresses. It later came to my attention, that one of her designs was quite similar to an international designer brands outfit. Achala may have been inspired, but a bit more creativity and twerking the design could have elevated it.  

Amilani Perera

Amilani holds fourteen years of experience in the fashion industry. Her self-titled brand ‘Amilani Perera’ has made its mark locally and internationally. She never failed to surprise her audience with the utilisation of fashion as a universal language to raise awareness of issues involved in gender-based violence and sustainability.

This year once again, Amilani partnered with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Sri Lanka, showcasing a unique collection that uplifts and empowers women who have faced violence in Sri Lanka; through her latest collection, ‘Heal’. 

Featuring fabric manipulation techniques include embroidery, sublimation printing and fabric bonding. All the handloom fabrics in the collection are weaved by survivors of violence in their shelters, as they heal. Amilani centred her collection with the palm print and heart designs of the survivors. 

The outfits were chic sophistication with its loose-fitting and flowy fabric. The range reflects the unique materials and the level of craft and workmanship that goes into each piece. Elegantly gathered dresses and pleated tops that wonderfully fuse a minimal and feminine aesthetic. You can easily mix your wardrobe basics with high-end elements from the collection to re-wear over multiple seasons.

Amilani has become a voice for women who suffer violence in silence, an issue she is deeply passionate and concerned about. She works closely with women who have faced violence, supporting them through mentoring programmes and giving back to society. This season’s collection was lovely and unique, the showcase was beautifully choreographed reflecting the message that ‘What Were You Wearing?’ doesn’t matter. 

All in all, CFW Day Two was quite a showcase.

(Pix by Kelum Chamara  and Laksiri Rukman)