People and events

Catwalk Rag 2012: Chrysanthie Fernandopulle-Saverimutto's benevolent return
After a 15 -year absence the designer of the 80s is set to put on an impressive show to benefit two children's charities
By Duvindi Illankoon

Chrysanthie Fernandopulle-Saverimutto, renowned Sri Lankan designer during the 80's, is all set to make a triumphant comeback with the tenth edition of Catwalk Rag, to be held on March 14 at the Oak Room, Cinnamon Grand Colombo.

Perhaps she is most famous for the National Costume she designed for Rosy Senanayake, which won Best National Costume at the 1985 Mrs. World pageant which subsequently saw the young Rosy crowned winner. She was recognized with the Zonta Club's Woman of Achievement Award in 1989; and trains, grooms, and dresses beauty queens taking part in Miss Sri Lanka for Miss Universe and Miss World Pageants.

She spoke to the Sunday Times from her workshop in Nugegoda, a hub of constant activity as she and her team of eight assistants prepare for the much anticipated event. "This show is actually more for our beneficiaries (the Touch Community Children's School in Pooneryn) than it is a comeback for me," Chrysanthie explains. "I heard about this project through church, and you know, it was great motivation. I woke up the next day, just sat down at my table, and sketched all the designs for the outfits then and there."'

Many of them are based on Batik. Chrysanthie has been using the medium since the early 1970's, when she won a Designer of the Year competition and had her batik dress featured on a magazine cover. Subsequently trained under Vipula Dharmawardhana, she continues to use batik as she is fascinated with its intricacy and vibrant colour. Catwalk Rag will feature several lines, including a collection of white ready to wear party outfits in silk and lace, dresses and sarees in tie/dye, plain black evening dresses, a Bollywood-inspired line and a range of summery floral prints, block colour prints and finally, a collection of designs in animal print.

She has been working at it since last September, helped by celebrity chef Koluu and her friends and family. "Imagining a design and getting it out of paper and into reality are two different things," she smiles. 'There's a lot of work and planning involved, especially when it comes to batik. You have to have a clear idea in your head of what you're going to do. And of course, I'm a big believer of the wearable factor. While I do understand that it's important to be creative and go that extra mile, I want all my clothes to graduate from the catwalk into being worn. All the pieces that you'll see at the show will go on sale, and they're all 100 percent wearable.'

It is an event that will celebrate her legacy as one of the country's top designers. Rosy Senanayake is set to take the ramp along with a host of other models, including a very young contender her daughter Mandhira! "She's just 16," Chrysanthie laughs. "I didn't want her to do this initially, but then I was convinced it would be lovely to have her open the show. So she'll be wearing a Kandyan saree I had designed for a pageant. We'll see how that goes!"

When asked if it is a comeback for the long haul, she remains non-committal. "As long as the ladies I work with continue to work with me, I'll be there. Fashion is what I do." The designer also stresses the importance of the show's beneficiary. 'Touch Community Children's School aims to build schools for children in the North and the East. They provide books, clothes, food and so much more for these kids. We're also hoping to donate some money to the Home of Hope Child Development Centre. All the proceeds from the show will go for these causes."

It's a wonderful time to be a fashion designer in Sri Lanka. Opportunities are everywhere and interest is high. There is no doubt then, that Colombo will be more than happy to welcome back one of its most celebrated designers.

Tickets for Catwalk Rag are priced at Rs. 4000 (inclusive of refreshments), and are available at the Cinnamon Grand, Ramani Fernando Salons, and Lou Ching Wong Studio.

Sarath Kongahage briefs German State Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Sri Lanka's ambassador to Germany, Sarath Kongahage, met Dr. Emily Haber, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, at the Federal German Foreign Office on February 17.

The Ambassador extensively briefed the State Secretary on the current developments in Sri Lanka in line with the reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation process in the post-conflict period. He also recalled the close cooperation between Germany and Sri Lanka and the necessity of expansion of such relations.

The State Secretary thanked the Ambassador for his briefing and said she would be glad to work with him to enhance the relationship between Sri Lanka and Germany.

The meeting was attended by the Head of the South Asia Section of the German Foreign Office, the Chief of Staff of the State Secretariat and the First Secretary of the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Berlin.

A Paediatrician’s musical journey of 70s, 80s hits for a cause

A charity concert, in aid of the Children's Cancer ward on March 18 at the British School Auditorium will feature as guest performer Sri Lankan-born Paediatrician Dr. Feizal Zavahir, now domiciled in the US, along with one of Colombo's most popular bands, Flame. They will sing well loved songs from the 70's and 80's from the country and western genre and include a sing-a-long segment.

Dr. Zavahir has nursed a love for music since his days at the Colombo Medical School and is now using his passion and talent to raise funds for the Paediatric Cancer Ward at the National Cancer Institute.

"It is impossible to comprehend why young, innocent children have to deal with such serious issues through illness when they should be living carefree lives of work and play. But we can do something to alleviate their situation by assisting them in a small way to ensure that they are able to fight the disease and emerge victorious," says Dr. Zavahir.

Tickets for the concert are available at Beverly Street (Colpetty and Nugegoda) and Bullion Exchange (Bambalap-itiya).

HSBC launches Future First Education Programme

HSBC recently launched the company phase of their Future First education programme. In association with the Ministry of Education and Young Entrepreneurs Sri Lanka (YESL), the launch took place on March 1 at Hewavitharana Vidyalaya, Rajagiriya, one of the many schools that will benefit from the programme.

Speaking at the event, Nimal Gooneratne, Additional Director of Education, expressed his gratitude to HSBC and YESL for the initiative, that focuses on polishing Sri Lanka’s budding young entrepreneurs, stating, 'These programmes will help our students to face their future without fear. The Western province extends its fullest support.'

Nick Nicolaou, Chief Executive Officer of HSBC for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said, “HSBC has invested 10 million USD globally for the Future First programme. This is because we believe in the power of education to make lives better. Entrepreneurship plays a vital part in a country's development-most of Sri Lanka's economic wealth comes from small and medium scale enterprises, and that is what we hope to encourage through this tie-up with YESL.”

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Patrick Amerasinghe, President of YESL, thanked HSBC for its financial support and the Ministry of Education for the keen interest taken in the initiative, adding that it was vital for more corporate sponsors and volunteers to join with YESL in promoting young entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka.

Enrol now for Master of Development Practice Degree at Peradeniya University

The second batch of students to pursue the internationally recognized Master of Development Practice Degree (MDP) at University of Peradeniya will be admitted in June 2012. Students with a university level background in social sciences, natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, humanities, law and management are encouraged to enrol in this unique and innovative two year degree programme.

The MDP at Peradeniya is part of a global network of 23 similar programmes in 16 countries. These have been developed in line with the recommendations of the International Commission on Education for Sustainable Development Practice and are sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation. The MDP is multidisciplinary in content, and its emphasis is practice-oriented with a three month field-training component.

For more details visit the MDP website at
or contact

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