BDL Features,Tina Edward Gunawardhana l by Tina Edward Gunawardhana l 17 Apr 2020     - 1065

Yvonne Gulamhusein - Leader of the fashion pack

In an era where conservative fashion was the norm, one of Colombo’s young lasses had the temerity to escape from the shackles of conservatism and create a new identity for herself, thereby setting the trend for many others to explore and experience the daring and adventurous nature of fashion.

Blessed with an ethereal beauty and contours of a catwalk model Yvonne Toussaint bore all the hallmarks of a model. Delicately petite and blessed with an abundance of beauty Yvonne started her life as a cabaret dancer who then met and married her handsome prince Onally Gulamhusein.

 A true trendsetter of that bygone era Yvonne dazzled everyone with her beauty and charm. Hobnobbing with the likes of Sri Lankan Prime Ministers and visiting dignitaries such as the Queen, the Aga Khan, and  US President Richard Nixon to name a few,  Yvonne cut a dashing figure with her eclectic fashion sense.

Growing up in the austere days of the second world war and then enjoying the post independence era Yvonne lived her life in one of the most decadent social times in Sri Lankan history. In her day Yvonne was considered the ultimate Colombo IT girl, dominating the social scene while being the cynosure of all eyes.

During a time when demure modesty was de rigueur Yvonne was one of the very few women who dared to compete in a Bathing Beauty competition. Clad in a skimpy two piece bikini Yvonne, the people’s favourite choice emerged triumphant, winning the Queen of the Bathing Belles title causing one male member of the audience to swoon! At the height of conservative fashion escapades such as this was unheard of! This was the nature that epitomized the daring sense of fashion in Yvonne Gulamhusein.

Leafing through her copious press cuttings it is fair to say Yvonne’s fashion was mainly effortless chic, not contrived nor strictly structure.

Yvonne Gulamhusein’s ability to turn heads was not only confined to Sri Lanka. Being part of society’s jet setting strata, she travelled the world. At the Royal Ascot races in the United Kingdom she earned some column inches in the British Press who were mesmerized by her Eastern allure clad in sari.

In her later years still very much part of the Colombo scene, Yvonne took to writing her own fashion column for the Sunday Times. She enjoyed this immensely and had all the requirements to be a fashion commentator having been immersed in fashion for all of her life.

Looking through archived photos of Yvonne it is evident that she was a woman who was keen to push the boundaries while being true to her unique sense of style. A paparazzi's dream Yvonne never failed to disappoint

A true icon of fashion coupled with a sublime classiness,  Yvonne Toussaint – Gulamhusein, a lithe sylphlike beauty with her engaging nature and daring sense of fashion ensured her place in the fashion spotlight especially during the halcyon days of the Raj and thereafter. A true style icon and legend that epitomized a heady fusion of Eastern and Western fashion.

This article first appeared in the Hi!! Best Dressed List Magazine 2013


Tina Edward Gunawardhana

Tina Edward Gunawardhana is the Features Editor of Hi!! Magazine. She writes on a variety of topics which include travel, fashion, lifestyle, cuisine and personalities. She is also a journalist for the Daily Mirror Life. An intrepid traveller, Tina likes to show readers the world through her eyes and experiences. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - tinajourno or email her at

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