Kamil Hewavitharana | LIMAK by Kamil
Raised in a big family that included five sisters, Kamil Hewavitharana’s mother used to replicate clothes she saw in magazines for his sisters while taking his creative input. This was his first encounter with his passion and future career- fashion designing. "I think I was fascinated how a roll of cloth could turn into a piece of art," he recalls, in an exclusive interview with Friday.
After a brief stint modelling, he decided to venture out on his own in the world of fashion, and Limak by Kamil, a proud Sri Lankan fashion brand, was born. In case you have not guessed it, the designer’s brand name is his own name spelled backwards.
"Unique," is how he likes to describe his collections that are inspired by his travels. "When you travel you get a lot of ideas." One of his collections were in fact inspired by churches and windows of Rome. "The architecture was so mesmerising, I had to incorporate this into my designs," he says.
A much in demand designer, his creations have been worn by Sri Lankan beauties at several international pageants, including Miss Universe, Miss International, and Supermodel of the World.
"I want to show life in my collection," says the designer, who also attempts to highlight certain issues on the ramp. He illustrated taking the example of Buckram, a stiff cotton material that is used under fancy material like lace or sequins. "It is usually used under [a material like lace]. But what I did was take that material, print it, and create outfits with it."
Through his Buckram collection presented at the Colombo Fashion Week in Sri Lanka, he attempted to portray how some designers find themselves unable to come out of the shadows of those larger than them and those who have more financial backing. "Sri Lanka has very good designers, but they’re hiding behind somebody stronger than them. They have very good ideas, but they can never come out. I want to help them come out."
Kamil does not want financial issues to prevent designers from reaching their full potential. "I think that is very unfair. Sometimes people have less money, but fashion is for everybody."
So, what does he think about displaying his styles in Dubai? "Dubai is like Paris, London, New York," says the designer convinced that the emirate has become a fashion capital.
After showcasing his work at the Dubai Fashion Week, Kamil is looking forward to setting up his own store in the emirate. "Dubai is a diverse market, a fashion hub, with immense opportunities. I want to start a business and improve my brand here," he says.
Quick takes with Kamil
Is fashion only about clothes?
Fashion is everything that makes you look good. Not only clothes but accessories, hair and make-up too... the total package.
One fashion tip you always follow.
Less is more.
The trend in the forthcoming year?
Sustainability is very important. Designers in Sri Lanka have started to use different materials like plastic bottles as materials. I am also thinking about something like that next year.
Nivedita Saboo | Nivedita Saboo Couture
Walking the streets of Pune, India, in search of fabric and accessories from a very young age, Nivedita Saboo had always known that fashion was her calling. Graduating as a gold medallist from the National Institute of Fashion and Technology only further cemented this ambition, and in 2002, Nivedita Saboo Couture was born.
What does her brand represent?
"Mine is a brand that inspires every individual to dress to be the best version of themselves."
From its inception, Nivedita’s brand has been extremely conscious, stressing social sustainability. "I just feel like the brand has always had its roots in being inclusive and involving different kinds of individuals from society, to make sure that they feel empowered in all respects," she says.
To that end, she has successfully collaborated with various organisations including the Pune School for the Blind to create styles keeping their needs in mind. She also designed clothes with 100 per cent fine, gentle cotton for acid attack survivors. Blending her passion for fashion and technology, her brand has also worked towards spreading awareness for Parkinson’s disease by developing designs that cut down dressing time from 40-45 minutes to just 9-12 minutes.
A firm believer in creating styles that can help ensure individuals become "strong and successful. To not buckle under peer pressure, to not give in to circumstances that make you weaker", she hopes to inspire people to be "the best version of themselves by making them feel confident, by making them feel very good about themselves".
Nivedita is convinced every person is a superhero, and this is exactly what she wants her brand to embody at the Dubai Fashion Week. She has been chosen by Warner Brothers as the head designer for India, and they are excited to showcase their collections from this collaboration. Her current collection showcased in Dubai is all about "what we do with the good in our lives and how we maximize that. That is what this current collection is inspired by", she says.
Nivedita has always held Dubai very close to her heart. "Dubai has a beautiful mix of wanting to dress in couture garments and having the occasions to do so, and at the same time I feel like there is this sensibility of mixing heritage with western couture. Dubai is an extremely updated, extremely agile, very aware market."
People here, she says, can truly appreciate the intensely precision-oriented craftsmanship of the work she does. "There’s a lot of awareness, they are a very mature customer who understands fashion."
Quick takes with Nivedita
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion has always been a way of life for me. With fashion, you define the kind of person that you are. Your clothes speak volumes about you – the way you carry yourself, the way you walk into a room, everything is about style and fashion. It really defines who you are and how you live, and the qualities and the morals that you believe in. It’s not just about the clothes for me.
A fashion tip you always follow?
I always feel a person has to really feel in their skin and ‘own’ the garment they’re trying out before they buy it. You need to think about where you’re going to wear that garment to, and where it fits in your life pattern. When you know your life, and you know exactly where you’re going to wear that garment, you will never waste it. There will always be repeated sustainable use of that garment.
A trend for the new year?
People are really moving towards being more in their skin, greater comfort. Conscious consumerism is on the rise, they are looking at companies that have their roots in giving back to the environment, and making sure they have great practices.
Behnoode Javaherpour | Behnoode
A young boy who must have always stood out of the crowd because he used to wear a suit to his school in Napoli, Italy, Behnoode Javaherpour has always had a flair for fashion. So it was no surprise when as a teenager, he decided to start his own label: Behnoode. Today, it has become a name to reckon with the world of fashion.
"Luxury," is how he defines his exclusive, limited-edition work that was also shown at the Dubai Fashion Week. A designer who takes inspiration from nature – "I go to mountains, to horse stables, I’m a climber and horse rider, so nature is my place" – Behnoode says that the pandemic and the ongoing technological revolution have encouraged him to seek new ways to recreate the personalised experience of his store at home. To that end, he has included augmented reality in his designs. "I created content in AR. There will be a QR Code in my works and when you scan the code you can see the clothes in 3D. It’s very interesting."
Behnoode believes this is a way of catering to a generation that doesn’t have time to visit his store. "The new generation, they don’t feel comfortable or they don’t have time to come to the shop and see. So it is much better for them to scan the QR code," he says.
This is also his way of supporting technological advancements and giving a gentle push to artists who have invested their time and energy into creating such works. This technology was visible in several of his exhibits in Dubai.
Two years ago, Behnoode diversified his brand and set up ‘Behnoode Home’, for interior decorations such as artwork, furniture, and home furnishings. "This establishment is part of Behnoode lifestyle. I believe Behnoode is not only a fashion brand, it is a lifestyle brand."
Keen to do his bit for the community in as best a way he can, the designer encourages charity and extends support to young talent. Behnoode Foundation, the arm involved in charity initiatives, has already promoted more than 100 young artists. He has also set up schools for the needy in Nepal and is now working on setting up one in Zanzibar.
The designer, who considers Dubai a fashion capital, is excited to be back in the city after the pandemic. The diversity in the population, he says, grants him international access. "I am charmed by the city’s ability to merge tradition with high fashion," he says.
Quick takes with Behnoode
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is about style and confidence. It’s an emotional connection to yourself and how you look at yourself and your life in this world.
One fashion tip you always follow?
Make your style your signature.
Any fashion trend predictions for the next year?
I believe fashion will become more stylish as people are stepping into the world after the pandemic. So they want to look and feel good again.