Fashion Prodigy - Amesh Wijesekera
Flying the flag for Sri Lanka at London Fashion Week

The latest discovery and hailed as the “Fresh Prince of Fashion” at London Fashion Week, AOD alumnus Amesh Wijesekera is the cynosure of all eyes in the fashion world. The winner of the International Catwalk Competition at LFW’s Graduate Fashion Week 2016, this year Amesh was selected to showcase at Fashion Scout, an integral part of LFW. His collection SRI was inspired by culture and history of early Ceylon along with the lifestyle, nature and sounds of the island. He is driven by the ability to transform the diversity, vibrant energy and raw experiences of the world into something refined and beautiful that others can experience. Amesh is on course to become one of Sri Lanka’s design prodigies in the international fashion arena.

Text Tina Edward Gunawardhana

How did it feel like to be selected for the Fashion Scout show at LFW?

Amazing! I was thrilled to be part of one of the biggest catwalks in the world and was so excited about presenting a collection that evoked my homeland on the London Fashion Week catwalks; I felt like I was doing my part in my own way for my home country. It was incredibly rewarding, humbling, gratifying and also really, really fun.

What inspired you for this collection?

The collection was inspired by the early Ceylon Culture, the history, the lifestyle and nature and sounds of the islands.

Where was this collection created?

The collection was manufactured entirely in Sri Lanka. I worked with a few of the leading apparel manufacturers to artisans and hand knitters from Gampaha and Divulapitiya to blend the modern manufacturing techniques with the hand woven jacquards. It was truly a humbling experience to work with the artisans to see their passion towards their crafts and to see how my designs can inspire and empower these artisanal communities.

Last year at LFW’s Graduate Fashion Week you won the Oracle International Catwalk Competition. How did that impact on your career?

With the help of my mentors at AOD, my work went on GFW and it won, which opened up whole new avenues for me here in London and around the world. My work caught the eye of legendary Zandra Rhodes and I got to work with some really cool designers/stylists/magazines and trend agencies including Edeline Lee, Vogue India, Future Lab, London Collections Men, Backstage at Sibling London and many more. It was my entry to the fashion world and I’m very grateful.

Did you undertake any placements during the last year?

Yes, I worked with a few designers and companies including Edeline Lee where I understood business of fashion, basically the entire process from design to delivery and how the show business of fashion works. I also worked with Future Laboratory and Zandra Rhodes which was the initial steps for the real fashion world.

What is the most exciting part of being a fashion designer today?

For me, the excitement comes from the ability to transform the diversity, vibrant energy and your raw experiences of this world, into something refined and beautiful that others can also experience. It’s such an incredible thing to see something you’ve created- something that was once in your mind, out there being real and influencing the minds of other people.

Do you advocate that university is really the best way to enter the fashion world?

The university education experience at AOD helped me a lot to understand fashion both creatively and from a technical perspective. It helped me to find myself, my true voice and who I am as a designer. Creatively too, education at AOD delivered a lot for me by helping me understand how to manage my creativity through constant curiosity, research and inspiration, the way in which textile can be used for deep and meaningful fashion expression, what it means to tell a story through clothing...Also the live briefs, the industry collaborations and interning at SLDF helped me to further understand what is truly expected from me as a designer

How do you manage to balance your creativity with commercial viability?

I think they go hand in hand. If you understand who you are and who your customer is, then it flows naturally. I always focus on the whole picture and try to envision the lifestyle of the customer when designing. I put everything out there and then edit, edit, edit, and re -edit until the designs are refined. You have to give it serious thought each time you design a new capsule but if you stay honest to what you are doing, stay true to yourself and your designs then it all ends up making sense.

Where do you think your future is headed ?

I love working with brands and I think collaboration is vital for any designer. Right now I have been commissioned by other brands that have same or similar life philosophies and approaches to design as me. So I see myself working in more design collaborations of that nature where my sense of style, my love for textile, my story and my origins align with the collections and then let’s see how it goes.