What we liked about OLU Swim Week Colombo 2019

OLU Swim Week Colombo 2019 was a blend of glamour, grandeur and boldness this year. Here’s what we liked about it all. We picked some of our favourite designers from each day. 

Day 1

The festive event took place at Hilton Colombo, welcoming influencers, bloggers, designers, models, and media to the most highlighted event of the month. Continuing through the week after countless events boosting to the first day of the show, in the presence of lights and camera and on a white platform, designers and models were revealed.

The first day in itself was dedicated to the emerging designers coming into the light – for the first time for some and for others a second time – going against the basic description of an artist who is “emerging”.

Even though the event is set to being “invitees only”, heavy crowds were spread out at the poolside of Hilton Colombo, fashionable but not quite in the right surrounding. Food and drinks were to be paid for and the show lived on most of the time.

Starting things up for the first time, making mistakes along the way, the venue was set at the poolside of iL PONTE and the runway was placed for the first time in history amidst other platforms, each dedicated to a specific emerging designer.
Beginning the fashion show for the first Asian Swim Week Colombo, the brilliant voices of Q and others serenaded the platform as models started revealing themselves wearing different designers. Taking designers in specific, the first day of CFW consisted of Ayesh Wickramarathne, Sharanja De Zoysa, Nadeeshani Ratnayaka, Marlon Rae, Himashi Wijeweera, and Nilusha Maddumage.


Marlon Rae

Marlon’s collection included a lot of minimalistic pieces, with a themed print adorning his silky free silhouettes. Speaking about his collection, he provided that he’s got great feedback from the guests, adding that he is most proud of the fact that he moved out of his usual style and tried something new under the theme of Alice in Wonderland – the print that was showcased throughout his pieces. He also made it a point to express how he is so very glad for the other emerging designers in his category.


“We started several years back together and we’ve got a really great support system providing strength for each other. We really lift each other up,” he said, adding that this collaborative effort was provided by CFW. “It’s great that it takes place every year, and it is an amazing show Ajai has outdone himself once again.”





Ayesh Wickramarathne

Ayesh’s unique collection for CFW wrapped around a blend of the traditional theme of China and the Qin dynasty titled “Modern Qin”. The collection incorporated yellow and red shades, making the entire collection colourful and inspiring to the naked eye. The material in itself was a mixture of a traditional dye combined with modern digital printing. The designer wear featured one-piece garments and sustainable fabrics, helping designer wear showcase the Qin dynasty that modernised China.






Nilusha Maddumage

Connecting a deeper meaning to her collection of clothing, Nilusha went on to label the collection “ReLife”, debating through various topics such as world peace and what it entails, such as freedom and happiness. Wanting to spread an understanding and a serious message through her clothing that there is a cry for unity between people in the world now more than ever, the entire line of clothing absorbed inspiration from a reverse technique, where clothes can be worn reversibly in any direction the wearer prefers, symbolic of the possibility of reversing the bad to good in the world. The shaping and designs of her collection are said to be straight out of the world map, making for unbelievable designer wear. Even though is not so much suited for casual wear, it celebrates passion and a sense of responsibility owed to the world, and inspires change from fashion first.



Day 2

Day two of OLU Swim Week Colombo 2019 was held at Galle Face Hotel, and the outdoor venue was fabulous. The set up was simply perfect and the guests simply couldn’t stop gushing about how beautiful it all looked.

The venue, in comparison to the previous day’s venue had more options when it came to refreshments as well, providing several outlets which allowed a less congested and more comfortable break time with a lot less pushing and shoving.
Although, due to the enormity of the venue, there were complaints about the time slots allocated for each designer and the number of models on the ramp at once – with fewer models taking the ramp, there was a lot of dead air. Ramani Fernando commented on this, stating: “I just wish that there were more models on the ramp at a time because it’s such a huge area. Having just one or two it makes it a bit boring, whereas Sonali’s was a big group and it really felt different. That’s just my feel about it.”


Day two kicked things off with seasoned CFW veteran Sonali Dharmawardena, best known for her passion for the Sri Lankan heritage art of batik and putting her unique stamp on it. For Swim Week 2019, Sonali put on an unforgettable show.

Celebrating Lankan solidarity, her collection was titled “Celebrating life”, and it was a real standout with its bright, summery floral patterns and eye-catching colour palette of bright pinks and oranges. Sonali truly utilised the outdoor venue to highlight her flowy silhouettes – the fabric when met with the ocean breeze truly looked regal.

Despite being the opening show, the guests continued to rave about it even as the show came to a close, with Ramani Fernando stating: “I just loved Sonali’s show. It was out of this world and fantastic!” Danu Innasithamby added: “I thought it was just outstanding and amazing! Sonali won my heart, soul, and mind.”

Sonali’s fellow designers too had words to say, with Indi Yapa Abeywardena proving: “I just loved the opening. Sonali brought something new. She has thought out of the box, utilising the entirety of this gorgeous building and placing models in those upper levels. Loved the setup!”



If you asked anyone present on day two, apart from the opening show, many would say their favourite was LaPard. With many muted earthy tones elevated by embroidery and sequins, the pieces looked very grounded and of course, Dinushi’s penchant for batik was ever present, immensely uplifting the entirety of the collection.

Many of the Sri Lankan ladies present were very taken by LaPard’s collection with several of them adding that they were going to look into procuring an outfit for themselves as soon as it becomes available.





Sticking with their paradise road design philosophy and incorporating elegant colours and classic silhouettes, Annika Fernando brought something quite sleek and modern to the ramp. With nude body suits and fresh floral prints, Annika’s new collection managed to make some heads turn. MAUS also featured their new range of footwear and accessory line.







Aviva Bidapa is an international designer, and her new collection truly resonated with the audience with its wearable yet glamorous designs. Towards the end of the show, AVIVA brought out several pieces inspired somewhat by the look of the 70’s retro glam. The glittering golds and silvers really grabbed everyone’s attention.

Many were thoroughly impressed by AVIVA’s collection, with Danu Innasithamby adding: “I really liked Aviva, because you can pair those pieces in everyday outfits. You can wear them with jeans and just make them look hot.” Ramani Fernando said: “I really like what Aviva presented. I loved the shimmery parts of it, felt very edgy and cool!”




Day 3

Swim Week Colombo came to a close on 10 August at Shangri La Hotel, Colombo. Guests were marvelled by the stunning showcases that were beautifully draped on the models who walked the ramp that evening. With both international and local designers taking centre stage right throughout, Day 3 was illuminated by Meraki, Stefel by Peronie, Rumpunch, Aquablue, Eka, Wendell Rodricks, Hameedia by FH, and Nivedita Saboo.



Rumpunch is a household name renowned for its vibrant colours and tribal prints, despite certain other pieces that take a more simplistic look with the plain blues and whites.

“Island spirit” being the narrative this season, Rumpunch showcased a spectrum of bright colours such as pinks and yellows foiled with their exclusive bold prints. Apart from the usual one or two-piece swimwear, hints of versatility were showcased through chic kimonos to convey the true essence of island life.




Nivedita Saboo

Amassed within the list of international designers for this season is Indian designer and couturier extraordinaire Nivedita Saboo. Having taken part in Paris and Hong Kong Fashion Weeks and London Bridal Fashion Week, this designer is a force to be reckoned with. Being a gold medallist from the National Institute of Fashion and Technology, she quite simply churns out perfection through her skilful marriage of design with detail.

Having white as the core, intricate prints of a wide range of colours highlighted versatility right throughout. With a range of designs paired with prints of inimitable nature, this collection, we’d say, truly implicated couture at its finest.





Stefel by Peronie

Staying true to her roots through local batik crafted from the rich history of Kandy is Stefel by Peronie. Stefel, intertwining exuberant and intricate print designs, indicates imminence of a contemporary spin on the local craft of batik. That evening, we found ourselves drawn to the unique, intricate floral designs amalgamated on silhouettes native to her culture which channels bohemian chic energy.





Aqua Blue

Yet another international brand to have hit the local ramp this season was Australian swimwear label Aqua Blue. Having worked with labels such as Dior, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Moet, and David Jones, New York-born Christian Chase, the company’s creative director, brings a breath of fresh air to the Australian fashion industry.

The brand which stays true to the concept of stylish, feminine fashion has been featured in the runways of Miami Swim Week, Fashion Palette, and Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival. This season’s collection titled “Eden” comprised intriguing pieces of signature blue prints and white mesh designs that are chic, sensual, and unmistakably Australian.



Wendell Rodricks

Crafting pieces inspired by Goa and India, Mumbai-born Wendell Rodricks was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian honour, the Padma Sri, in 2014.

Venturing into the industry, his first collection earned him the title “Guru of Minimalism” and he later on pioneered the concept of resort wear and eco-friendly garments. Wendell has previously featured his collections at numerous famous ramps such as Dubai Fashion Week and the world’s largest garment fair IGEDO in Germany to name a few. Day 3 of Swim Week Colombo was graced with their latest collection which featured bold colours and the brand’s signature fabric layering. Layered kimonos and outer wear best complemented the embellished swim attire, and the blues paired with the reds, we thought, were an overall highlight.




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