In conversation with AOD Alumni, BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Textiles Graduate Amesh Wijesekera as he prepares to show at London Fashion Week’s International Fashion Showcase.
Sri Lankan Design talent is taking on one of the biggest international fashion platforms in the world as Amesh Wijesekera preps for London Fashion Week 2019. Amesh’s fashion genius was homegrown right here in Sri Lanka and today he is predicted to become the first big international fashion name for the country. The next big step in Amesh Wijesekera’s career in fashion design will be to show at London Fashion Week’s International Fashion Showcase. In this exclusive interview Amesh gives an insight to working in London, showcasing at various international fashion platforms and his vision for London Fashion Week.
We just heard some big news. Can we get the inside story about your latest selection for London Fashion Week’s International Fashion Showcase?
Yes, the British Fashion Council has selected me to show at London Fashion Week 2019 International Fashion Showcase (IFS). It means that I will be among the designers who they’ve selected from across the world, as what they consider to be most interesting and promising young talent. I have to say how grateful I am to British Council Sri Lanka, and particularly its country director Gill Caldicott, for pushing my application through to the UK. For many years, the British Council in Colombo has been instrumental in connecting Sri Lankan talent to London Fashion Week and I think it has helped many young designers to kick off their careers in a big way. I’m also very thankful to the British Fashion Council in the UK for nominating me to the final round of applicants.
One of my greatest supporters has been AOD. I’m immensely thankful to its founder Linda Speldewinde who has been a mentor through and through and the amazing faculty including Karen Mcleod and Stuart Mcleod. And of course, my family has been just incredible to me with their unwavering support.
How has AOD been a part of your journey so far?
AOD is where I truly found myself. When I started my fashion design degree I had a head full of ideas but at AOD I learnt the art of expressing them; starting from conceptualization to the final garment I gained the ability to stay true to myself while creating something so out of the ordinary that it challenged pre-conceived notions and really brought out the essence of what I was trying to express. We had an amazing faculty from around the world who really inspired us to achieve our potential. AOD also has great industry connections and this was a crucial factor for me in designing and producing my collections. With AOD’s support I was able to showcase at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Runways as well as London Graduate Fashion Week where I won the Oracle International Catwalk Competition. In every instance I had great support from AOD and I am very grateful for all the opportunities and exposure I have gained as a result.
So, tell us more about London Fashion Week and what kind of platform it is.
It is definitely a growth platform. London Fashion Week’s International Fashion Showcase was conceptualized by British Council and the British Fashion Council. London Fashion Week has committed me to the full IFS programme which includes a monthly online business development programme, a two week residency in London and participation in the final showcase in February 2019. Even last time when I took part in London Fashion Week for Fashion Scout, it was really like a whole new world opening up to me. I felt quite privileged when the studio of iconic designer Zandra Rhodes offered me an internship. I also ended up working with the much-respected new age brand Edeline Lee. These connections were powerful influencers in my growth.
Tell us a bit about your collections for London Graduate Fashion Week and Fashion Scout?
My collections so far represent the true essence of Sri Lankan design. With the support of AOD, I was able to collaborate with Sri Lanka’s apparel industry and incorporate technologically advanced manufacturing, finishing, printing and bonding methods. Simultaneously, intricate weaving skills of the textile artisans were used to create herringbone and twill detailing on each garment. This intertwining of traditional crafts with cutting-edge fashion technology was how I portrayed the hallmark qualities that Sri Lanka offers the world.
The collection I designed for Fashion Scout is actually going to be retailed in Europe and USA under the label ‘Sri’—the first seasonless high fashion brand launched out of Sri Lanka which is an initiative by Design Corp, AOD’s holding company.
Finally, how are you prepping for London Fashion Week IFS 2019? You must be excited.
Sri Lankan design is really taking on an international outlook and I am really happy to be a part of it. Most of my time will be spent on curating this collection. It’s really exciting, and I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life now! With the kind of audience that London Fashion Week IFS is known to draw, the exposure that I will get and opportunities that would open up to me will again be out of this world. So, a lot to look forward to!