Yoland still posesses that style quotient that made her Hi!! Magazine’s first covergirl, thirteen years ago. Married at a young age, Yoland, the young housewife and mother was happily leading a blissful life when fate intervened in the way of a friend who invited Yoland to join her in a batik class in the late 70s. Keen to try something new Yoland joined the class with much enthusiasm and soon realised that this artistic medium satiated her creative desires.
Working with batik intrigued her and she soon began designing her shirts for her husband, perhaps her first muse and also wall-hangings. Working with colours and design made her realise that she had a good eye to marry colour and design in winning combinations which further fuelled her creativity.
Beavering away creating various batik items, her work caught the eye of a shop owner who wanted her to sell her creations through his shop. It was with the opening of The Oberoi Hotel that Yoland’s big break came when they offered her window space to display her work. Although apprehensive at first Yoland took up the offer, rose to the challenge and simply wowed the Sri Lankan fashion industry which was in its infancy. The rest, as they say is history. Astute and business minded, Yoland soon realised that although batik was her specialty, traditional batik designs alone would not have allured the international market which she wanted to dip her toes in. So ever keen to learn she embarked on several hand painting courses in Japan and France which would further assist in enhancing not only her designs but also her skills repertoire.
Marrying hand-painted fabric designs with batik, Yoland soon began to up the ante in terms of design and creativity. A household name in Sri Lanka, Yoland's reputation crossed the seas and she was invited by Fashion Fairs all over the globe to showcase her unique form of art and design. The businesswoman in her saw open her own retail outlet called the Yoland Collection which became the number one boutique store in Sri Lanka that fashionistas of all vintage flocked to when they wanted to be clad for a special occasion. The Yoland collection covered the full spectrum of fashion from silk sarees, kaftans, scarves, dresses and neckties which never failed to fulfill the demands of her customers. Yoland's audiences are taken on a journey which sees the fabulous art of silk painting on natural fabric and batik designs presenting charismatic unions which erupt in glorious technicolor and splendid designs
Her training in Lyons, France in the complex art of silk painting coupled with her experience with natural fabric and batik design made her a potent designer and it is this dynamic combination that sets her apart from other designers. Her signature style is immediately recognisable and sets her apart from a cluttered clothing market. Her silhouettes through out the years have evolved in keeping with the ever changing fashion scene. Her clientele is impressive and boasts socialites and the glitterati of the local film industry. Her following in Europe, Japan and the Middle East is impressive. Such is her reputation that her collections have graced fashion runways in Italy, Germany, Pakistan, Australia, France, Switzerland, Singapore and Japan amongst many more.
During her long career spanning over four decades Yoland has witnessed a huge change in the Sri Lankan fashion industry, an industry which she has in no small way helped to shape. For her efforts she was been rewarded with several accolades both locally and internationally. At the Fashion Asia Awards in China a few years she won ‘Asia’s Top Fashionable Selling Brand of the Year’ and more recently won the Commonwealth Women Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013. A great testimony to a one time housewife who took to batik to broaden her horizons.
This article first appeared in the Hi!! Best Dressed List magazine 2016