Interview with Senani Wickremasinghe, AOD fashion graduate whose decision to pursue her dream lead to a successful design career
Fashion is an expression of individuality and culture which connects an industry beyond borders. The Fashion Design industry fuses innovative design with production, distribution and retail to create a form of artistic collaboration. AOD is a pioneer in the Fashion movement in Sri Lanka and has been actively engaged in creating a global design community which drives young fashion designers to create their own unique form of self expression.
What was the turning point that made you decide on becoming a designer?
I received my education at Visakha Vidyalaya, Colombo. During my childhood, I was able to win many awards using the pencil, crayons and watercolours. Although I had more of a passion for design, soon after my A/L's I started on an IT degree, which I had little interest for. Then, a friend introduced me to AOD. Joining AOD was the turning point of my life. From the very first day I realised that I found the way to my dream. AOD gave me a creative and supportive environment to enhance my creativity and grow as a designer .
Where does your role fit in, in the fashion industry?
Fashion is a very exciting and demanding industry. It is an industry that keeps growing and changing every day. Currently, I work in an internationally retailed local online fashion brand, as a resident designer.
As a designer my role in it has a lot to do with innovation; often, completely reinventing fashion through textile in terms of the material, its quality, function etc. in addition to colour and pattern. I'm usually working from the low-tech end of the textile technology spectrum with traditional artisans and often merge it with more high tech methods at the point of garment construction to match both local and international markets.
How did your education prepare you for this?
From the day I joined AOD I got clear direction from my lecturers as to where and how I should start my journey. The foundation programme was a great support for me to understand fashion philosophy as a beginner. Then from the 1st year to the final year, we followed an international degree program in collaboration with Northumbria University UK. It was a dream come true, to pursue an international UK degree in Sri Lanka. During this, we were exposed to international brands, designers, markets and their customer bases through different study briefs. Also we got a chance to collaborate with traditional artisans as well as modern apparel makers who manufacture garments for giant brands. All these experiences helped me to become who I am today!
How do you think your work impacts people?
How your design inspires people and how it makes them feel begins with how you envision them seeing your work. In my signature style, I give a traditional touch through heritage textiles to contemporary western silhouettes to empower the modern woman who works, travels and lives her best life.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
It is a must for a designer to be updated about new trends and fashion industry movements. I keep track of what’s going on in London, Paris, New York and Milan and in the latest material innovation laboratories around the world, through constant research. Personally, travel is something that fuels my creativity through a constant influx of new ideas inspired by different cultures, places and nature. Maintaining a sketchbook wherever I go in these journeys has given me a great visual diary of what inspires me and this is what I translate to my work.
You almost went on to a different path although your passion was design. What would you say today, to other young people who ignore their creative calling?
Each individual is born with a purpose and an inner calling for it. You have to recognise it and not get carried away by what society tells you to do. The parents and teachers are sometimes able to recognise these talents and should encourage children to explore it further; but your dreams are up to you to achieve. So, challenge the norm and work hard. Have courage and fight for your dreams!