Inspiring designs

Mirror Magazine caught up with some young designers amidst preparations to showcase their work at the LIFT New Designers' graduate show, Pix by Yasendra Amarasinghe

What better way to get a message across than surround people with it, keeping them constantly aware of a cause worth fighting for.

Three young designers, who graduated this year from the Lanka Institute of Fashion Technology (Pvt) Ltd (LIFT), conveyed strong messages through their collection of designs at LIFT New Designers ‘Graduate Fashion show 2010’ which concluded recently. Having to wear clothes made of animal skins and make skins fashionable on ramp, model and now designer- Nimesha Kahandagama (27), never felt comfortable in encouraging people to buy them. “As a model, I’ve been covered completely in real leather and I felt it wasn’t right,” expresses Nimesha. “I’ve watched videos about how animals are killed for their skin. We must remember that they are animals and not just things we can use to accessories with.”

Naoda Thenuara Christina De Silva Nimesha Kahandagama

Nimesha’s collection is made of materials that are deliberately made to have a mock animal skin quality. Titled ‘Say No to Animal Skins’, her collection includes designs that represent leopard, puma, zebra, and snake skin.

The materials are embellishments and have a distinct feature is the chains which represent cruelty to animals by tying them up. “Chain ropes around the body if the wearer doesn’t want to hold the bag” she says explaining how she has incorporated chains into her design.

“People should understand that alternatives, such as fake leather are just as good. For people who like animal skin prints, they can buy these clothes with a clear conscience in knowing that they’ve helped save the life of an animal”.

Nimesha’s designs are for those between the age group of 23 to 30 years and are priced from Rs.  4,000 to 12,000. Her collection is mostly of shoes and large bags which she says are ideal for mothers and working women as it allows them to carry all they want and have the items organised neatly in the bags.

Christina De Silva's (19) designs show the world what women have to endure everyday of their lives while the world chooses to turn a blind eye to their suffering. Using ballerinas as an example, she explains, “even though she looks glamorous and has a fixed smile on her face, people don’t know how she feels inside. Ballerinas go through a lot but one of the most pressing concerns is that they have a need to stay slim. The message I want to get across is that women don’t have to take extreme measures such as starving themselves to be thin. There are cuts and variations in clothes that could allow them to look slimmer.”

A ballerina herself, Christina has been dancing since the tender age of 2 years. While she is passionate about ballet she is more interested in designing. Describing her collection she says that the designs are heavily embellished and that everything was handmade. The designs convey the rhythm and gracefulness of a ballerina. She elaborates that she’s chosen the colours pink and yellow throughout the collection. She chose the colours because she says pink represents femininity and yellow is a happy colour, which symbolizes the superficial happiness that they show the world concealing their pain as they dance.

Christina’s designs range from Rs. 5,000 to 20,000 and target those of the age group from 18 to 25 years. On a somewhat similar line of thought as Christina’s designs, Naoda Thenuara (22) designed her collection to empower women. Based on the life of the well known Somali model Waris Dirie. “Her whole life story is about pain and suffering,” Naoda explains, “she has achieved so much since she left Somalia and her life as a gypsy girl. She left Somalia and came to London, during which time she continued to be a victim of abuse in addition to being a child labourer.  She later found work at a McDondald’s fastfood outlet and that’s where she was discovered by a photographer, but the road to becoming a super model was tough as well.”

Waris later became a human rights activist and was appointed as a UN Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. Empowering other women to believe in and stand up for themselves, Naoda’s designs reflect the life story of Waris. Speaking about her designs Naoda says that what’s distinct about her collection is that all the fabrics have been worked on such as dying, foiling, pleats and studs.

The price of her designs range from Rs. 4,000 to Rs.6, 000. The collections of these talented and forward thinking young designers were showcased, along with their peers’ designs, at the the Hilton Colombo. Producing fashion designers who are making a mark worldwide, particularly in the UK, and making Sri Lanka proud; LIFT helps aspiring designers sharpen their skills and provides them with a platform to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

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