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By Rishini Weeraratne

1. What inspired your collection for Colombo Fashion Week 2024, and how does it reflect your personal design aesthetic and vision?
2. Can you walk us through the creative process behind your debut collection, from conceptualization to final execution?
3. What challenges did you encounter while preparing for your debut at Colombo Fashion Week, and how did you overcome them?
4. How do you hope your debut collection will resonate with the audience at Colombo Fashion Week, and what message or emotions do you aim to convey through your designs?
5. As an emerging designer, what do you believe sets your work apart from others in the industry, and what unique perspective do you bring to Sri Lanka's fashion scene?
6. Could you share any specific influences from Sri Lankan culture or heritage that are reflected in your debut collection, and how do you interpret tradition in a contemporary context?
7. What advice would you give to aspiring designers who hope to showcase their work at a prestigious event like Colombo Fashion Week in the future?
8. Looking ahead, what are your aspirations and goals as a designer following your debut at Colombo Fashion Week 2024?

Gayanth Karunarathne

  • This season, my collection for Colombo Fashion Week draws inspiration from the unyielding optimism surrounding genuine love. Each garment in this collection tells a delicate yet robust tale of love, embodying inner beauty and the enduring strength it represents. As a designer, I've always celebrated strong, independent women, and this collection is no exception. However, I aimed to elevate the level of femininity and grace compared to my previous works.
  • In my second year as an emerging designer for CFW, I reflect on my debut in last year's Spring-Summer showcase with fondness. As a designer, I thrive on storytelling, weaving personal experiences into my creations to forge connections with those who appreciate my craft. This collection holds a special place in my heart, cultivated over time through the gathering of ideas and the sketching process, which involved scribbles on notebooks, sticky notes, and every available scrap of paper. Fashion week serves as my creative playground, allowing me to showcase my skills and explore new techniques. This time around, I ventured into a realm of different colours, fabrics, and methods, deviating from my previous endeavours. Yet, amidst the excitement of garment manufacturing, the looming deadline adds a layer of stress, turning it into a race against time. Fortunately, the guidance and support from fashion week mentors proved invaluable, facilitating the development and execution of my vision. Through regular meetings, I honed my ideas, refining them into the cohesive collection that I proudly presented this season.
  • One significant challenge I encountered while creating this collection was time management. With a tight deadline looming, I was compelled to strategize on how best to utilize my resources, particularly in terms of manpower. I meticulously planned and allocated tasks based on each team member's strengths, resulting in a more streamlined and efficient workflow. This approach not only helped us meet the deadline but also facilitated smoother and faster progress throughout the production process.
  • The positive reception of my debut collection last year, applauded by both fashion week attendees and my clients, has certainly raised the stakes for me this year. I hope to maintain that standard of excellence. Transitioning from retail to the runway, I've always envisioned real women adorning my creations, feeling beautiful and empowered. This time, I aspire to elevate that experience to a more ethereal and dreamlike realm.
  • What distinguishes me from other designers is my background. Being self-taught has shaped my perspective, allowing me to approach design in a unique manner, untethered by traditional training. This freedom encourages me to explore new avenues and embrace unconventional methods, often leading to intriguing outcomes. My designs showcase handcrafted embellishments and intricate embroidery, showcasing the passion and dedication I infuse into each creation. As a designer, my objective is to shed light on the love and effort inherent in crafting something truly exceptional.
  • While many designers draw inspiration from traditional Sri Lankan arts and crafts, I've chosen a different route by focusing on Sri Lankan women as my muse. The unmatched beauty, grace, and resilience of Sri Lankan women often go unrecognized. Having been raised and supported by women, I find joy in celebrating femininity and honouring womanhood through my designs. I frequently blend modern silhouettes with traditional techniques like embroidery and embellishments to craft contemporary pieces that pay homage to the strength and elegance of women.
  • A key piece of advice I'd offer aspiring designers is to embrace hard work. Dedication and perseverance not only propel you forward but also reveal your untapped potential. Additionally, avoid comparing yourself to others; instead, focus on self-improvement. Make it a goal to continually challenge yourself, striving to become a better designer with each passing day.
  • In the upcoming year, my ambitions revolve around expanding my brand presence with retailers. Since launching my menswear line last year, I aim to further develop it while introducing fresh designs to my jewellery collection. Additionally, I have plans to extend my brand internationally, particularly targeting markets in the US and Europe. Overall, my focus is on honing my skills and evolving into a more daring and ambitious designer who isn't afraid to dream big.


  • The title of my collection draws inspiration from the renowned treatise "Malleus Maleficarum." Originating in the 15th century, this text was utilized to suppress heresy through any means necessary. Within its pages lies a depiction of the witch as a symbol of the anguish and suffering endured by women throughout history. This theme resonates deeply with me, as the justification of this suffering has been a personal fascination since my youth. I firmly believe that fashion is not only art but also a powerful form of media. Like other forms of media, it enables us to convey complex messages in unconventional ways. Fashion serves as a fundamental tool for expression, allowing us to communicate our beliefs and understand both ourselves and our shared ancestral pain.
  • Fashion, as a form of art, holds a unique privilege. As an artist myself, I relish the opportunity to experiment with materials, aligning them with the core messages of my collections. With "Mallevs Maleficarvm," I aimed to convey themes of pain, blood, and sorrow through various textile techniques. My objective was to create something aesthetically pleasing despite the weight of the subject matter, emphasizing tactility and sensory engagement. I find immense joy in exploring different materials, revelling in the tactile experience of touching, and manipulating them. My creative process is akin to a demiurge, envisioning the transformation of raw materials into intriguing creations that captivate more than just the eye. My passion for knitting stems from my aunt, who taught me the craft from a young age. It was she who introduced me to the knitting machine, enabling me to bring my visions to life with my own hands for this collection.

The most time-consuming piece in the collection was the final dress, distinguished by its hood. Crafting the skirt involved meticulously hand-sewing approximately 560 chiffon ruches, while the knitted portion was intricately crocheted using various yarns. In total, it took me five months to complete this labour of love.

  • Although I had already showcased this collection at Fashion Graduate Italia in Milan, my journey to prepare for Colombo Fashion Week was far from smooth sailing. By the time the opportunity arose to participate, everything seemed already set in stone. However, that didn't mean I didn't face challenges while crafting the collection for the Fashion Graduate event. My toughest obstacle was navigating the process solo and ensuring everything was completed on time. From creating accessories to mastering textile manipulations, I had to find innovative solutions and tools to achieve the desired results. This journey was not just a personal challenge but also a test for my family, who provided unwavering support throughout. They lent a helping hand with tasks like painting the zips on boots and refining the edges of the ruches, demonstrating their invaluable contribution to my creative process.
  • My goal with this fashion collection was to provoke a strong reaction from the audience. I sought to impart the weight of the message it carried, regardless of whether the predominant emotion evoked was positive or negative. Whether viewers were left amazed or horrified, I aimed to stir them to their core, leaving no room for indifference. My ultimate desire was for the collection to elicit either passionate love or vehement dislike, without any shades of grey in between.
  • I consider one of my greatest strengths to be my commitment to experimenting with materials in a way that allows my concepts to resonate throughout every fold of fabric. In a society dominated by fast fashion, I firmly believe that craftsmanship, attention to detail, and an artistic approach to fashion are essential for creating something truly unique. Additionally, I've observed that people often admire my vision, and during my time at IUAD Academy in Milan, I successfully convinced many individuals to embrace yarn knitting, even if they were initially hesitant. Another strength of mine is my precision and accuracy. While at times it may border on being overly meticulous, I've found that this attention to detail consistently pays off in the end.
  • This collection draws no direct inspiration from Sri Lanka's cultural elements. Instead, it is a culmination of the experiences and contexts that have shaped my artistic vision over time. While the adage "you are what you eat" suggests that our diet defines us, I believe that our upbringing, experiences, and inspirations, along with their cultural heritage, play a more significant role in shaping who we are. In creating this visual narrative, I drew from the European consciousness, particularly the historical portrayal and societal evolution of witches. During my time in Colombo, I've encountered individuals who, like me, possess unique visions shaped by their beliefs, heritage, and inspirations. I'm confident that these encounters will contribute to my personal and creative growth moving forward.
  • Always maintain belief in your endeavours, never imposing limits on yourself, and continually strive for improvement for your own fulfilment. It's crucial to have a clear understanding of what you aim to communicate, fostering a robust connection both visually and conceptually with your messages. Additionally, take pride in your goals and celebrate them without the notion of achieving a singular Magnum Opus. Remember, there is always room for growth and learning. Without the thought of an ultimate Magnum Opus. There is always something to learn.
  • Looking ahead, I aspire to continue my journey in the fashion world, with the goal of establishing my own fashion brand. I dream of creating designs that not only inspire others but also leave a lasting impression, ensuring that my work is remembered for years to come.

Chihiro Fernando

(1) My inspiration stemmed from a resilient tree in Melbourne, on the verge of fading yet retaining its beauty. It sparked a realization about the challenges faced by migrants seeking a better future, a journey fraught with familiar obstacles regardless of location. I questioned the necessity of leaving one's homeland when struggles persist everywhere. Thus, my collection, Kriyā 2024, narrates this narrative. Through abstract batik prints, I illustrate individuals striving to overcome hurdles and ascend towards their aspirations. The evolving color palette, from dark to light, symbolizes life's arduous path, with perseverance leading to eventual peace. Together, we can surmount challenges, advocating for change and fostering a brighter future for generations to come.

(2) In my collection, I've predominantly utilized sustainable silk imported from India. This conscious choice stems from my aversion to the traditional silk production process, which involves the sacrifice of thousands of silkworms for just one yard of fabric. My specialization lies in Batik, a technique I self-taught and adapted to be environmentally friendly. By carefully curating the dye mixture to match the fabric quantity, I minimize waste, preventing any excess from harming the soil. Each print in the collection is meticulously handcrafted, imbuing it with a personal touch and allowing me to authentically convey my story. Furthermore, I've incorporated Shibori, a Japanese technique, into my designs, despite encountering challenges along the way. To overcome these obstacles, I introduced appliqué techniques to enhance the collection's depth and richness.

(3) I have a penchant for acquiring slightly damaged fabrics—pieces that producers deem unsellable and destined for disposal. However, I repurpose these fabrics in my collection, granting them newfound purpose. Yet, the challenge lies in meticulously trimming away unwanted or damaged sections to fit with my patterns. One unexpected incident befell my final creation: the saree. After completing each step of its production and subjecting it to a final wash, I hung it out to dry, as per usual. However, to my dismay, a curious squirrel seemed drawn to the vibrant colors of the saree, resulting in several bite marks and holes. Given the considerable time and effort invested in crafting the saree, I faced the daunting task of finding a solution to conceal the damage. Thus, I turned to the appliqué technique, transforming the mishap into an opportunity for creative experimentation. It was truly a roller coaster of emotions and challenges.

(4)  My primary aim is to convey the complete narrative behind each collection, ensuring that my label is recognized as more than just another batik brand. I aspire for my designs to resonate deeply with life, reflecting a purpose beyond mere fashion. Through thoughtful curation and a mix of vibrant colors, I strive to create a distinct identity for my label, one that leaves a lasting impression on viewers, transcending the confines of a single fashion show. My hope is that people will remember this collection long after the curtains close.

(5) The techniques I employ deviate significantly from traditional methods, setting my work apart. The harmonious blend of colors and the intricate batik art prints featured in my collection are what truly define its uniqueness.

(6) The silhouettes of my garments draw inspiration from Sri Lankan historical traditional clothing. Additionally, I have infused our national flower, the blue water lily, into my batik prints.

(7) I believe Colombo Fashion Week serves as an excellent platform for young, aspiring designers to embark on their careers and gain invaluable exposure in the industry. It offers them the chance to discover their potential, pushing beyond their comfort zones to achieve unexpected heights. I wholeheartedly encourage them to seize this remarkable opportunity and embrace the challenge wholeheartedly.

(8) While I've already made a mark as a brand in the fashion industry, my goal is to become renowned for my designs. I aim for people to recognize the dedication, passion, and meticulous effort poured into crafting each garment. My aspiration is for every batik piece created by me to be regarded as a unique collector's item, symbolizing not just fashion, but also artistry and individuality.



(1) My collection finds its inspiration in the enduring Greek myth of the ‘Moirae,’ also known as the Sisters of Fate. According to ancient Greek mythology, these sisters intricately weave the life thread of every mortal being. Klotho begins the weaving at birth, Lachesis determines the length of the thread, and Atropos, with her ominous scissors, decides the moment of death, severing the thread when the time comes. The awe-inspiring power of the Moirae, worshipped and revered in the ancient world, resonates throughout my collection. I aim to depict the life cycle of human beings, capturing the journey from birth through various life experiences to the inevitable end. Infused with the timeless essence of Greek antiquity, my designs showcase effortlessly flowing silhouettes that pay homage to the simplicity and grace of ancient attire. At the heart of my collection lie intricate hand-drawn prints, delicately narrating the enchanting tale of the Moirae and the solar snake. Each piece, meticulously crafted, serves as a symbol of our connection to history, art, and the planet we call home.

(2) At the heart of my collection lay the soulful hand-drawn prints, serving as its core. Once I solidified the concept story and found inspiration, I immersed myself in bringing these prints to life through intricate illustration. From there, the focus shifted to the sampling process, ensuring that each design seamlessly transitioned from paper to fabric. With materials meticulously handpicked, manufacturing commenced, breathing life into each piece. Fit sessions followed suit, allowing for meticulous tweaks and adjustments to ensure the perfect fit and silhouette. As the collection took shape, styling became a meticulous affair, with each outfit carefully accessorized with sunglasses and jewellery, enhancing the overall aesthetic.

(3) A significant challenge I faced during the preparation for my debut at Colombo Fashion Week was the careful selection of materials, especially considering the intricate hand-drawn prints that were central to my collection. This required numerous rounds of testing and sample printing to achieve the desired visual representation and quality on the chosen fabrics. Moreover, working with delicate textiles presented an additional hurdle during the garment construction process. It called for a delicate balance between precise stitching techniques to preserve the intricate details of the prints while ensuring the overall quality and durability of the garments.

(4) I envision my debut collection at Colombo Fashion Week as a vibrant celebration of artistic expression and individuality, resonating profoundly with the diverse audience in attendance. Each garment serves as a canvas for storytelling, adorned with hand-drawn prints that encapsulate my fervour for blending artistry with fashion. My overarching aim is to convey a powerful message of empowerment and self-expression, inspiring individuals to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate their personal narratives through the medium of fashion. I believe that through this collection, I can ignite a sense of confidence and creativity within each wearer, fostering a deeper connection to their own identity and style.

(5) I firmly believe that the hand-drawn prints and distinctive silhouettes in my designs set my work apart from others in the industry. By infusing each piece with meticulously crafted prints and innovative shapes, I strive to create garments that stand out and leave a lasting impression on the fashion world. This dedication to artistic expression and attention to detail is what defines my brand and distinguishes it from the rest.

(7) Indeed, Colombo Fashion Week offers an exceptional platform for aspiring designers to showcase their talents and gain exposure for their brands. It serves as a dynamic launching pad for emerging designers, enabling them to present their distinctive perspectives, innovative designs, and creative visions to a diverse audience of fashion enthusiasts, industry professionals, and potential buyers. Through this influential event, designers have the opportunity to make their mark on the fashion landscape and establish themselves as noteworthy voices within the industry.

(8) Following my debut at Colombo Fashion Week 2024, I am dedicated to building up my own brand, Moirae. With a vision inspired by timeless mythology and a commitment to artistic expression, Moirae seeks to carve its own unique path in the world of fashion. Through meticulous craftsmanship, innovative designs, and a focus on storytelling, Moirae aims to captivate audiences and leave a lasting impression on the fashion industry. As I embark on this journey, I am excited to see how Moirae evolves and grows, making its mark on the global fashion scene.

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