Aspiring Emerging Designer Showcase
By Shabna Cader
The strength, diverse skill and creativity of designers that showcase in these recent years will determine the future of Sri Lankan fashion in the decades to come. I think it’s important to note that this is no easy feat and one that I find highly commendable that CFW has taken upon the responsibility to create a nurturing and enriching platform.
Day One is something I always look forward to. In comparison to the rest of the showcase dates, this is the one night where raw talent and design creativity comes to light. The imagination is fresh. The collections are almost always very distinct. There’s always something new to feast the eyes upon. The emerging designers aren’t afraid to experiment with prints, patterns, hues and even silhouettes. The experience as part of the audience is always exciting in this case.
The runway night is however only a significantly small part of the journey however. The Emerging Designer Development Programme is an extensive affair and begins with a period of mentoring to ensure the designers gain a comprehensive knowledge of the fashion plus retail infrastructure of our island. Their skills are therefore developed over time. They are trained to build and fine-tune their respective brands and labels in order to appeal to an audience of not just other designers, but also editors, buyers, influencers and larger brands both on and off the runway.
Of course, the entire experience was a tad different and lacked that hype I would say owing to the pandemic and its restrictions. The number of guests and invitees was also limited to ensure safety and hygiene practices were being followed. The buzz amongst the emerging designers was electric, exciting and hopeful. Aside from keeping things glam as is usual for CFW, the runway platform was pretty simple, circular - perhaps to even highlight circularity in fashion and the industry.
Slight delay to start as usual but this is to be expected when coordinating an event of this scale but everything was smooth sailing since the kickoff. 11 young designers were selected amongst over a 100 applicants - Akash Paranavithana, Chamanka Pehesara, Divya Jayawikrama, Hashini Fernando, Hasindu Jayasinghe, Ishani Rajapaksha, Kavishna Kuruvitage, Nadini Kuruwandeniya, Navindri Ranathunga, Nipunika Fernando and Nisansala Deegala. I would have ideally liked to see a balance between male and female designers but...all good.
I found the collections to be fashion-forward to an extent, but also very much rooted in culture and an earthy colour palette primarily. While some had focused on lighter tropical vibes, there was no distinct splashes or pops of bright colour or hues, but muted undertones. The majority of all collections were earthy - blacks, browns, mustards, maroons, and taupes. Even the cooler tones like blues and greens were deeper shades instead of vivid.
In terms of silhouettes, I think perhaps the pandemic had some influence over more casual and billowy styles of wear, although there were a handful who focused on some sleek and more fitted attire. I did prefer the relaxed silhouettes. They highlighted a very laid-back aspect of fashion design and retail that I thought would be more appealing in these times. It must be noted that there were elements of cultural design elements and touches, including some breezy sarongs, and osariya type wear, which I found to be likeable.
I do wish to commend and highlight some of the collections that included block printing, which I know to be quite an extensive and tedious process. The results were unique designs, although in very much muted and darker tones.
On the whole, I’d have to say it was a successful night in terms of showcasing a line-up on emerging creativity. I look forward to seeing the designers and their brands/labels on retail platforms soon.