By Venessa Anthony and Naveed Rozais
The last few days have been a haze of beautifully presented designer collections with HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) holding its first season of 2022.
Held at Shangri-La Colombo from 24 to 26 February, as always, CFW focused on sustainably – with this season’s theme, “Green Conscious, Earth Sensitive” as well as CFW’s sustainability initiatives like the “Responsible Metre”, and frameworks like the Emerging Designer Fund and the Italy Award to promote emerging designers – taking centre stage.
Twenty-three designers took to the runway including Charini Suriyage, Dimuthu Sahabandu, Sonali Dharmawardena, Amilani Perera, Fouzul Hameed, Indi Yapa Abeywardena, Asanka De Mel, Dinushi Pamunuwa, Kamil Hewavitharana, Achala Leekoh, Himashi Wijeweera, Divya Jayawickrama, Ayesh Wickramaratne, and Nilusha Maddumage. Some of the prominent South Asian designers whose work took centre stage were famous Pakistani designer Rizwan Beyg, Woolmark award winner Suket Dhir, and RimZim Dadu from India.
Here are some highlights from the shows:
As an individual with an avid history within the clothing industry, Mikhail’s brand “ALTY” (A Letter To You) looks at clothing as more than an object and promotes the idea of passing the garment on to the next person which aids the cause of sustainability and longevity.
This particular collection was inspired by the synergy of nature and how colours and designs in nature flow without disruption. Wide A-line silhouettes, sleek lines, muted tones, and considered plays on proportion created a timeless range of men’s fashion.
Chamanka Hewage, through his brand “Panther”, played with the idea of art in fashion and celebrating fashion by connecting many different backgrounds like music and choreography; on the surface is the concept he tried to bring to life that focused on creating an experience for the audience. This season, his collection was inspired by the famous Spanish poem Le jardin by Jacques Prevert.
Unfortunately, there were many fashion critics and professionals who pointed out that Chamanka’s prints were very similar to one that was showcased a few years ago by the brand Christian Dior. Whether this was an honest mistake, or blatant plagiarism, is up to the panel at CFW to decide, but one must wonder how such a coincidentally similar design slipped past the eyes of the fashionistas at CFW.
The collection focused mainly on the emotions and thoughts of a person who is so consumed by lust and temptations that the person slowly forgets to rationalise simple and important aspects which can set them down an evil and dark path. Each look gradually portrays the declining paths where one slowly gives in to the darkness.
In this collection, he featured techniques like upcycled patterns and recycling the old collection. He also utilised zero-waste pattern-making with an additional technique, using patchwork and safety pins for maximum reduction of waste materials.
Divya Ninety Three
The olden “Glitter Summer” collection theme was inspired by the 1960s, taking inspiration from the fashion textiles of the era, and using Divya’s iconic hand block print method to recreate iconic 1960s prints and patterns, adding a local touch to floral prints by using our endemic “heen bovitiya” flower.
Her collection pays homage to the beauty of Sri Lankan nature with a diverse palette of pink, yellow, orange, black, brown, and off-white, and combined with mainly natural fabrics like linen, cotton, and zero-waste pattern-making, creating a collection that is beautiful and sustainable too.
LOVI’s mission to take the thrill of the sarong to the world continues with their newest collection, “Play”. Centred on LOVI’s belief that playfulness is an attitude of freedom and lightness that you can wear, “Play” includes sarongs for all aspects of life, from yoga to travel, to working from home or the office to heading to the beach, and also weddings.
The clothes were entirely hand-made using naturally biodegradable cottons and silks, and also avoided Earth-clogging polyesters, nylon, and spandex fabrics. As always, LOVI stays deeply Sri Lankan, modern, and ever positive.
The brand Leekoh has always aspired to elevate designer-wear with art and sustainability, launching in 2018 with a collection of hand-drawn art being converted into planet-friendly digital prints.
Leekoh’s newest collection “Soul Space” is inspired by the shift in mindset from being stressed and burned out to being more socially and environmentally conscious, which has been brought about by the pandemic. The collection uses volume, texture, large-scale prints, fluid motifs, including florals, uplifting pinks and oranges, and fresh airy gradients to evoke a sense of celebrating self-freedom from societal demands and what used to be a monotonous lifestyle pre-pandemic.
This was yet another collection where one can only hope the designer aimed to pay homage to another well-known international designer – some of the clothes bordered on a direct copy of the said designer’s collection, with a slight shift in colours. Again, we are left with the question of how such a prestigious fashion show let this slide.
Exploring the theme “The Cosmic Horizon”, Himashi explored the various colour combinations in the cosmic galaxy using handmade beeralu lace. Mimicking the horizon, the main element was the creation of linear textures using handmade beeralu and textural trims like chains, fringes, different types of ribbons, stones, and pearls available in the market.
Using fabrics like tulle, bridal satin, stretch, and non-stretch velvet, Himashi’s silhouettes stayed simple but varied, from bodycon to flowing, fluid silhouettes created to showcase the potential of different textural combinations.
Continuing her love for combining the traditional and modern, Charini’s collection at CFW Summer ‘22 showcased silhouettes that embody her key aesthetic of feminine fluidity.
Nature has always been one of Charini’s central points of inspiration, and this collection explores an enchanting experience of these unique and beautiful bird species, giving it form and dimension through its details and print, using inspiration from wildlife photographer Sarinda Unamboowe, whose respect and passion for the subject of wildlife and its photography made this a like-minded collaboration.