An interview with AOD Fashion Deisgner, AOD alumni, Shehani De Silva on pursuing her dream to create impact with design
Authentic self expression in Fashion holds a mirror to one’s personality and lifestyle. It is with this in mind that one must be a part of this competitive, multi-billion dollar industry which presents countless opportunities and touches lives the world over. Fashion lets you explore many dimensions and reflect them in an all-encompassing creation which impacts the wearer in an intimate level. Shehani De Silva, AOD Alumni and Fashion Designer strives to make this connection in her collections which are marketed to a large local and international customer base.
Tell us a little about yourself and your beginnings?
I studied at Musaeus College and later joined Royal Institute for my higher education. I was one of those people who have scribbled all over my note books and have always been inspired by what I see around me. Ever since I was younger I have enjoyed drawing, painting and handcrafts. After my A/L I found out about AOD and I knew at once that’s where I wanted to be.
What inspires you about working in the fashion industry and pursuing your own identity?
Fashion is something that influences everyone across borders and being able to be an agent of such a strong movement as a designer is quite exciting. The Fashion & Apparel Industry in Sri Lanka is a multi-billion dollar sector and knowing that there is growth to pursue your own brand or have a great industry backing is very assuring. I have always enjoyed fashion and working on textiles. What inspires me to be in this industry is the way it allows me to express my personality and my mood. This also gives me the confidence to try out new things and to think out of the box. I am mostly inspired by darker hues and nature. It’s something I try to reflect in my designs. I am also someone who appreciates simplicity and comfort. It lets me inspire others to express their own personality and style.
Your design identity explores modernoutfits that stay true to themselves. How do you think this creates a positive impact?
My design are connected to the South Asian Woman’s heritage and therefore fuels their sense of identity while remaining modern and true to themselves.Something that interests me is to combine these traditional textiles together and make my designs truly unique. I am at the moment experimenting with Batik and tie-dye in designing sarees which I believe represents Sri Lankan culture and heritage along with a modern touch to it as well. I feel I’m very comfortable in designing textiles; Handloom, to be specific. It is always satisfying to bring our heritage crafts to the modern world of fashion. It is very rewarding to be able to work with local artisans and to support their families and the community. Also it is always great to see someone wearing your designs. To hear comments that your designs boost confidence and create an impact even if they are at work or at a social gathering is always satisfying.
How did AOD play a role to bring out this potential in you through education and exposure?
The high quality of education and the supportive mentors at AOD immensely helped me to explore my creative mind and apply myself in the design industry. They gave me the freedom and guidance to be myself and nurture my own creative mind, which I think is very important for designers. I experimented with embroidery while at AOD but our Heritage projects really exposed me to Sri Lankan crafts such as batik, beeralu and handloom, out of which handloom really captivated me and I still explore these textiles in creating my designs.
There are many who love to pursue a career in fashion design but are afraid to pursue it. Words of advice?
Don’t be afraid to be different from others, have your own creative mind and go create your own life. Design can be often referred to something as a very non-traditional career path. It takes courage to identify that you are going to be different and once you make that choice, you will make a difference in lives.