By Naveed Rozais and Venessa Anthony
HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) Summer 2021 took Colombo by storm last weekend with a three-day showcase at the Shangri-La Hotel, Colombo, highlighting emerging design talent, local craft, and the need for responsible fashion.
This year, CFW took place under the theme “Week of Circularity”, which aims to propel the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka to transform itself and create fashion products that are relevant and sustainable in this new environment.
CFW Founder and Managing Director (MD) Ajai Vir Singh shared that the message of responsibility took particular importance this year after the events of 2020. “Everyone realised fashion had to change because it is one of the most polluting industries in the world,” Vir Singh said. “We’ve brought in the concept of circularity because everyone is moving towards a circular economy. We’ve introduced what we call the ‘Responsible Meter’ and an emerging designer fund because we want more young designers to come into the industry and be more sustainable in their creations.
“With the Responsible Meter, every garment in CFW from this year on will receive a Responsible Score for consumers to look and buy those garments, resulting in a responsible purchase, which is our main theme this year because that’s what the world needs, what our environment needs, and that’s what our society needs.”
Here are some of our personal favourites from CFW Summer 2021.
Day One of CFW featured 11 emerging designers, with the designs showcased this year being based on traditional Sri Lankan crafts like beeralu lace, batik, and Dumbara handloom. The lineup included Navindri Ranatunga, Hasindu Jayasingha, Chamanka Pehesara, Nisansala Deegala, Ishani Rajapaksha, Naduni Katuwandeniya, Nipunika Fernando, Kavishna Kuruwitage, Akash Paranavithana, Hashani Fernando, and Divya Jayawickrama.
Academy of Design (AOD) fashion alum Kavishna Kuruwitage presented a collection of batik 1980s men’s workwear clothing. The collection’s inspiration was a continuation of her final graduate collection. An experimental batik technique showed through most pieces of the collection with a reversible method being used that shows a clean, refined technique on one side and an abstract, textured effect on the reverse side.
University of Moratuwa final-year undergraduate Hashani presented “Cottage Soul”, a collection that reflects the simplicity of cottage life and uses the simple and calm behaviours of people who live in cottages as her main inspiration. Calm, earthy tones and shades of green enriched the collection in order to exhibit the correlation they had with the environment. In line with the concept, fabrics were chosen in linen varieties and cotton blends.
University of Moratuwa graduate and avid textile artist Pasindu Jayasinghe presented a batik collection with a very strong message inspired by his recent work with children who have been abused. Rudiments of the project came through into the collection through the erratic colour palette used and the silhouette theme which aims to drown viewers in a wave of nostalgia originating from relatable personal memories.
Day Two of CFW featured a performance by renowned Sri Lankan musician Ashanti de Alwis of her empowerment anthem Nidahase, with some of Colombo’s most popular brands and designers taking to the runway including Fouzul Hameed, Dinushi Pamunuwa, Charini Suriyage, Himashi Wijeweera, Conscience, and Amilani Perera.
Continuing her landmark partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Amilani Perera presented “With Her” aimed at raising awareness on the social responsibility to provide care for survivors of domestic violence. The mix of emotions that a survivor of violence feels when she’s finding her place in society is portrayed through the intense colour palette running from dark to vibrant colours with hand-drawn print digitally developed by Amilani Perera representing growth, acceptance, and finding love and space.
Conscience presented a circular collection showing the concept of circularity in action and using only unused pieces from the brand’s past collections. No new investment in resources was incurred to release this new collection, which was an exercise in minimising waste to zero and using the design philosophy “Redesign, ReCreate, and ReNew”.
Charini Suriyage’s 2021 collection visited all the cities we miss travelling to because of the pandemic through fashion with nostalgic prints of beautiful city views and architecture from around the world. Keeping circularity close to heart, this collection was made with the most eco-friendly printing methods and using zero-waste policies.
The finale of CFW kicked off with a reading of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song by Ashok Ferrey accompanied by the musical stylings of Julius Mitchell. Day Three featured Aslam Hussein, Nelusha Maddumage, Ayesh Milendra, LOVI Ceylon, Sonali Dharmawardena, and, for the first time ever, the CFW Bridal Segment.
The final collection of CFW, Sonali Dharamwardena explores the many challenges Sri Lankans have faced over the last few years. Green and yellow signifying life were present heavily through the collection with every piece being stripped off its original shape and made to be something else.
LOVI’s 2021 collection was all about “Two Worlds”, blending East and West, modern and traditional, and minimalist and adorned, fusing Italian design and Sri Lankan craftsmanship, and emphasising that two worlds can exist in harmony because regardless of our differences, certain values remain the same: authenticity, adventure, friendship, and love.
The CFW Bridal Segment
2021 saw CFW launch its first Bridal Segment with a collection of designers showing micro collections of wedding wear. The designers who showed in the CFW Bridal Segment were Himashi Wijeweera, Sonali Dharmawardena, Dhananjaya Bandara, Aslam Hussein, Charini Suriyage, Fouzul Hameed, Amilani Perera, and LOVI Ceylon.
Our personal favourites from the CFW Bridal Segment were Aslam Hussein’s mix of minimal and extravagant bridals and Charini Suriyage’s timely edit of the destination wedding look.
PHOTOS Lalith Perera