Evolution of a Fashion Week in a Post-Covid Environment | Sunday Observer

Evolution of a Fashion Week in a Post-Covid Environment

20 September, 2020

HSBC Colombo Fashion Week (CFW) became the first fashion week platform in the region to present fashion amid the Covid-19 environment. The summer 2020 season which was initially planned for March took place last week amid a new normal environment, featuring 27 designers across three days.

Due to the Covid-19 virus outbreak which led to restrictions placed on travel and gathering in large groups, this year’s showcase was limited to a small audience approved by the Ministry of Health and local designers only. Strict health guidelines were followed, such as social distancing, with the audience also encouraged to wear masks at all times. The shows were also live streamed online as well for the local and international audience.

“In this new environment, every aspect of fashion has changed, from designing to consuming to retailing and to presenting. It’s a new normal.

At CFW, we had to be sensitive to all these aspects, lead the designers on this journey, have them create collections relevant to this environment and then present it in the most attractive manner, so that confidence is built in consuming fashion,” said Colombo Fashion Week Founder and Managing Director Ajai Vir Singh.

He said that this edition of CFW was unique in more than one way as it took place at a time where the influence of lockdown was immense. “Not only were there physical lockdowns but emotional as well.

The change to the new was challenging everyone’s mindset. For us, it was almost like unlocking a unique format of presenting fashion which encouraged opening up of the mindsets and gave confidence for fashion consumers to go out in a responsible manner. I look forward to more such interesting opportunities,” he said.

CFW became the first platform in the region to host a fashion week in a post-Covid environment.

CFW explored presentation ideas beyond the runway by creating unique sets led by storytelling, using stimulating creative collaborations like music and personalities from the literary scene of Sri Lanka. This was done with the mindset that fashion consumers have appreciation of creativity beyond just fashion. Hence, storytelling involved other creative streams and runways became a fascinating combination of high fashion and theatre sets.

CFW’s Day 2 showcase opened with designer Aslam Hussein’s collection presented on the runway to the reading of an excerpt from celebrated Sri Lankan author Ashok Ferrey’s latest book The Unmarriageable Man, read by Ashok Ferrey himself.

FH by Fouzul Hameed and Dimuthu Sahabandu both took to the ramp with lively performances from Natanda Dance Theatre, and renowned opera singer Kishani Jayasinghe performed for the unveiling of Vogue Jewellers’ latest collection of exquisite fine jewellery.

Performances on Day 3 included a rendition of Adele’s iconic hit Skyfall by aspiring actress and musician, Q (aka. Francesca Mudannayake), and designer Amilani Perera’s collaborative collection with the United Nations Population Fund in Sri Lanka in an effort to use fashion to break the silence around gender-based violence was beautifully matched with a moving dance act featuring Sandarangi Perera of Vibe Dance Academy. Beatboxer and rapper Julius Mitchell was paired with Charini Suriyage whose elegant collection closed the CFW 2020 showcase.

One of the strongest performances of this edition of CFW were from the 13 young emerging designers who adapted their collections most efficiently to the new environment.

These high potential young designers are soon set to form the basis of the fashion design industry of Sri Lanka.

CFW 2020 took the lead in promoting Sri Lankan talent on a larger scale this year, and relied solely on local talent and resources across the full gamut of design and production requirements for the showcase, from designers to models to show production.

“Colombo Fashion Week has always operated with the goal of encouraging and highlighting local talent. We have used foreign talent in the past to support us with growing the relevant segments via knowledge sharing and collaborations and this year, I am happy to say we have reached the stage where our local talent has been able to fill all gaps,” said Colombo Fashion Week CEO and Director Fazeena Rajabdeen.