Kirthi Sri Karunaratne is undoubtedly Sri Lanka’s foremost couturier. Notching up over sixty years in the fashion industry in Sri Lanka, Kirthi is one who has played his part as a fashion doyen to perfection. Entering the world of fashion as a teenager with a remarkable ability to sketch designs, opportunity knocked when Jeffrey De Seynes from the House of Dior came to Sri Lanka in search of a designer. Having discovered Kirthi, De Seynes in fact had inadvertently discovered a person who would go on to become Sri Lanka’s first fashion designer. The lure of an apprenticeship at the House of Dior surpassed the attraction to continue his studies in medicine and instead, Kirthi set off on a journey which laid the foundations for him to be the designer he is today.
Setting sail on the SS Corfu in the early fifties, Kirthi stopped off at London first, en route to Paris. Wanting to experience the fashion in London, Kirthi lost no time in securing a placement at the John Cavanagh Boutique, an immensely successful London based Irish designer who counted British aristocracy and nobility amongst his clients. Soon after his sojourn in London, Kirthi set off to Paris to serve his apprenticeship at the House of Dior. Mastering skills needed to run a business, Kirthi then travelled to Rome where he worked for the famed Italian designer Emilio Schuberth who was called the “Tailor to the Stars”. Kirthi was with Schuberth for a short time and while there had the privilege of meeting famous film stars like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida.
Kirthi Sri Karunaratne with his wealth of experience and own unique style still remains a firm favourite amongst the upper echelons of Sri Lankan society. An octogenarian who belies his age, Kirthi continues to infuse Colombo’s elite with his mantra of simplicity in elegance and his own brand of sophisticated timeless elegance.
This article first appeared in the Hi!! Best Dressed List Magazine 2014