HSBC Colombo Fashion Week concluded its summer season as the biggest, under the theme ‘Celebrate Colombo’ in association with Sri Lanka Tourism. Hosted at Hilton Colombo, CFW, in its 14th year since inception showcased the progress it has made with the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka. In over a decade, with every season, CFW takes the fashion design industry to a next level with carefully planned year long development programs which then get showcased in a week long activities.
Designer development has been its mainstay, an incubation programme that has evolved every year and impacted many young designers, the testimony of this success was the emerging designer showcase on Day 1. Every year new designers come into the CFW fold and this system of development continues to bear fruit every season. Ten new and young designers showcased their collections after being mentored by CFW mentorship program for 3 months.
“After 14 years it is hard to imagine a fashion design industry without CFW, by God’s grace this journey has steered and fathered the industry and continues to do so. I spend a lot of time with young and new designers, to get the next generation ready. Darshi was our first find in 2007, followed by others since then. Every designer who has shown at CFW in last ten or so years have been impacted by our programmes. As I have personally spent time with them at some point or the other, and every year a new lot comes and current lot becomes ‘not-so-new’. Every season is carefully planned with the development of fashion design industry at its base. We know where we are going this year and next. Nothing is done adhoc, everything is part of a plan. Bigger goals ahead.” Says Ajai Vir Singh, Founder and President of Colombo Fashion Week
There were a few new additions in the form of collaboration of related creative streams of Art, Films and Ethical Fashion in addition to the existing collaboration of Food. Art was the biggest collaboration under ART CONNECT, where five major Sri Lankan artists Mahen Perera, Kingsley Gunatillake, Pala Polupitiya, Sunjewwa Kumara and Sanjay Geekiyanage created pieces under the theme ‘Second Skin’. This kicked-off the week of CFW presented by Residences at One Galle Face. “We are privileged to be a part of this unconventional and unprecedented evening. Being the developer, we strongly believe that Art and Home connect with each other and are inseparable.” said Rajeev Garg, Director of Finance and Deputy General Manager at One Falle Face.
Day 3 was Ethical Fashion Day presented by Ceylon Tea, it was re-introduced as one of the first by any fashion week, it was a day of celebrating and encouraging good practices in fashion. This thinking has been one of the pillars of CFW for a while. Seven designers with an ethical or ‘good-fashion’ mindset showcased on that day. There were two international designers and five Sri Lankan designers. The iconic Bibi Russell from Bangladesh and Rimzim Dadu from India, along with Conscience, Colombo Jewellery Stores, Fouzul Hameed and the grand finale of Ethical Day by Darshi Keerthisena of Buddhi Batiks. CJS celebrating their 95 years showcased its support for the program it does to minimize Human Elephant conflict, Fouzul Hameed showcased his collections support for ‘Feed a child’ programme of ‘My Friends’. Darshi Keerthisena showcased a dazzling finale as the queen of Batik promoting the craft.
Fashion Films was a new addition where each Sri Lankan designer worked with young film directors to create idea films of their inspirations, these films were shown before their collections. CFW will continue to expand this programme.
Four important restaurants came together to create signature dishes and menus under the programme Fashion and Food. This continued throughout the week.
The Finale day of CFW was a different one, it broke the mould to showcase it in the outdoor location of The Blue at Hilton, it was a new experience, where two important international designers showcased, Agatha Ruiz De La Prada from Spain and Abraham & Thakore from India, in addition to strong showings by Meraki, Charini, Dimuthu and Maus.
Colombo Fashion Week’s brand partners play a very important role as they support the vision of the founder to propel the fashion design industry forward, they contribute towards journey with CFW. HSBC celebrated 10 years of its partnership with CFW, Hilton celebrated 8 years of its partnership with CFW, Sri Lanka Tourism board presented the theme of the season ‘Celebrate Colombo’ and Sri Lanka Tea Board presented Ethical Fashion Day. There was important support by Etisalat as digital solutions partner, Jaguar, Residences at One Galle Face, Colombo Jewellery Stores, Unilever Ponds BB+, Ramani Fernando Salons, Wine World, Olu Tropical Water, Vision Care the official eyewear partner, Printage, Leo Burnett and Arc World Wide and Emerging Media.
The last event of CFW was on the Designer pod on 26th, where all designer collections were exhibit for retail. This was a starting point for commerce to start for the participating designers.