A Breath of Fresh Air
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Glitz and glamour filled the cool night breeze on 12 November within Shangri-La’s Ballroom, as the first night of Olu Swim Week was underway. Fresh after the end of a long period of travel restrictions and lockdowns, the event was held with a limited number of guests while broadcasting live online for all to watch and enjoy.
This year’s edition of Olu Swim Week featured a variety of designs focused on Luxury Resortwear with an emphasis on the festive season of December and destination weddings. Needless to say, I was interested to discover how the current ‘new normal’ and increased concern of sustainability and circularity influence the designs this year.
Inspired by the local tropical atmosphere, Aslam Hussein’s collection for Swim Week was a showcase of his vision for elegant, subtle luxury. It was clear to my eyes that Hussein is a master at finding the perfect blend in colour for his designs, especially when utilising brilliant emerald greens, bold patterns and embroidered florals.
Each design showcased exciting silhouettes, each a showstopper in its own right. Even so, Hussein managed to stay true to his theme of subtle luxury.
We were treated with long, flowing garments that would fit perfectly for any time of the day spent relaxing at a luxury resort; lounging by the pool, treating yourself for a meal, enjoying the night sky.
Hussein’s signature flair was noticeable throughout his collection, with each garment exuding elegance, sophistication, femininity with a tasteful touch of sensuality without compromising the comfort that is expected of resort wear.
All this culminated in his pièce de résistance, which was a stunning bridal outfit that brought an end to Hussein’s showcase with a bang.
Dinushi Pamunuwa (La Pard)
La Pard, a luxury batik clothing brand specialising in lingerie, nightwear, eveningwear and resort wear. Their showcase for Olu Colombo Swim Week is a celebration of Batik craft and the strength in all women, with the theme of ‘For Her.’
Infusing traditional batik craft into contemporary designs, La Pard showcased the power of batiks in bringing a piece of traditional simplicity to luxurious clothing.
Speaking to Dinushi, we learnt that the inspiration behind her Collection was a message to appreciate and admire the women in our lives and to inspire all women to be beautiful using their ethical, handmade batik craft Collection which were made by a team with a majority of females.
Observing each piece of her showcased Collection, I saw the feminine touch in each design, gently hugging the figure while remaining comfortable. It was clear Dinushi has a good eye for using contrasts to make outfits that were practical, simple, yet pleasing to the eye. There certainly were a few outfits and sarong designs that caught my eye, but in comparison to the rest of the showcased designs by other designers, I felt Dinushi has more to offer than what we saw on that night.
Tivon Prasad and Seema Moceri (Karma Collection)
Taking inspiration from the vibrancy and culture of Sri Lanka, Tivon and Seema have fused their best strengths (Tivon’s natural fashion sense and Seema’s eye for design) once again and presented a dazzling display of designs with bold patterns, vibrant colours and fashion with personality in their Colombo Swimweek debut.
Their Collection took inspiration from two strong women who have left their mark in history; Frida Khalo and Iris Apfel. This theme rings true throughout their showcase, even creating their very own fabric based on the two women.
The two shared their vision of portraying a message of strength and confidence, especially towards being confident in what you wear irrespective of your size or ethnicity.
The duo’s designs showcased versions for both ‘him’ and ‘her,’ meaning there was a little something for everyone. Not only was the bold colours and patterned material a highlight of the night, which easily captured the youthful essence we all feel while taking a tropical getaway. Of course, it would be an injustice not to mention the show stopping reveal of their bikini and robe combo, which was a highlight of the night.
However, Olu Colombo Swim Week truly held on to the best for last with Charini Suriyage’s Collection as the final showcase of the night.
Her Collection drew inspiration from the beautifully detailed coral walls of the Jaffna Fort, as well as the breathtaking views of Jaffna’s golden sandy beaches surrounded by groves of palmyrah.
Charini’s attention to detail was evident throughout her collection. Each one casting a fun, dramatic silhouette encased in vibrant colours specially crafted using unique handcrafted prints on batik fabrics which can be considered a tasteful harmony of responsibility and luxury in fashion
Throughout the Collection, we were treated with snippets of Jaffna, cleverly hidden within the folds of each garment. We were treated to dusky sunsets and sandy beaches, arches and walls of the Jaffna fort, the bright blue Jaffna sky and many more snippets of Jaffna’s alluring attractions which Charini depicted in her Collection, all revealed as the flowing garments billowed open by the wind. Each piece was airy and free, yet gently caressed the body’s figure, masterfully harmonising femininity, escape and luxury.
It goes without saying; I was wholly impressed at the creativity, inspiration and talent behind all four designers. There was a little bit of something for everyone, with designs by all four catering to a variety of tastes and preferences. I look forward to seeing their creations appearing on retail platforms and seeing what else they have to offer in the future.