The rise of Dimuthu Sahabandu
Keeping his head well below the parapet and away from the drama of Colombo’s fashion circles, designer Dimuthu Sahabandu prefers to unleash his own unique brand of drama on the runway with his exquisite and dramatic collections.
Sahabandu is a regular fixture at Colombo Fashion Week and his work has always emerged by far the best each and every time. He really is deserving of the accolade of being Sri Lanka’s foremost couturier, for he takes time over his work, from researching to draping and manipulating fabric to stitching, to achieve perfection each and every time.
Like most young designers, after leaving DS Senanayake Vidyalaya, Sahabandu acquired a Foundation in Art and Design from AOD.
This entry level qualification held him in good stead to join the LaSalle College of the Arts in Singapore where he graduated with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design. It was under the tutelage of Lionel Roudaut that Sahabandu discovered his love for draping.
Armed with his degree he returned to
Sri Lanka and worked for KT Brown as an assistant where he learnt the ropes in the business of fashion and creating a brand. Driven by his desire to create beautiful pieces under his own brand his luck was in, when fashion boutique Melache requested him to create a small collection for the boutique in 2010. The following year Sahabandu was selected to showcase at Colombo Fashion Week and since then, he has never looked back.
For Sahabandu the silhouettes are part of his brand’s signature. “They are mostly voluminous and structured. My collections consist of separates which can be put together as one look or worn separately with the wearer’s own basics to create their own look. These looks can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. The collection consists mostly of high waist flared maxi skirts, structured and draped tops along with dresses which work well on many different body types” he explains.
His latest collection ‘Zahra’ was launched initially for Eid 2022. “We are now working on retail extensions of the same collection. The word ‘Zahra’ translates to ‘Brilliant’ and ‘Flower’ in Arabic, capturing the idea of purity and beauty. Our brand identity too revolves around the idea of femininity and beauty therefore ‘Zahra’ seemed like an ideal concept for our Eid collection this year. We’ve derived inspiration from vintage rose tapestries and prints. Most of the prints we have in the collection are custom developed and printed by us at Dimuthu Sahabandu Collections.” Influenced by the fractious nature of society and the political upheavals, Sahabandu adds “Sri Lanka being a multi cultural country I’ve always felt that our communities have little or no interaction between one another. We always cater to our own communities we are familiar with while we are strangers to others. ‘Zahra’ is an attempt to bridge the gap between communities.”
A unique attribute of Sahabandu is that he is never content with using a piece of fabric as it is. He loves to manipulate it by using some magnificent techniques and conjures something that looks magical. Sahabandu says “I believe that it comes from my love for textile and surface decoration. I initially wanted to be a textile designer and found fashion in the process. My passion for surface detailing is something that comes to the fore whenever I am in the process of creating something new. For this reason I can never be happy with one material.”
“Whenever I look at material my mind is automatically thinking of ways to manipulate surface into something else. I find great joy in turning something ordinary into something extraordinary through surface detailing. It’s fulfilling and almost thirst quenching in a way that’s inexplicable” he elaborates.
Despite his meteoric rise to success, Sahabandu remains a humble man at heart who is uncomfortable with praise especially when I call him Sri Lanka’s finest couturier. He fights shy to accept that accolade by saying “I always wonder whether I’ve worked hard enough to earn such recognition. While I’m very grateful for all I’ve been able to achieve so far, I’m also highly critical of my own work. I feel that I need to work a lot more to be deserving of such praise.”