Things have never looked better for Sonali De Silva. The designer, formerly known as Sonali White, is among Sri Lanka’s foremost devotees of haute couture. She says times have never been more exciting. Colombo, for instance, could become a new fashion capital. “We can look forward to Colombo and the rest of the country bustling with tourists and hopefully those who visit will be interested in buying goods made in Sri Lanka including garments designed and manufactured by Sri Lankan designers. Markets will open up internationally for Sri Lankan designer garments,” says Sonali hopefully.
Sonali designs garments under her label Haddai (www.haddai.com). Her outlet on De Fonseka Road serves both as a designer store and as a one-stop shop for brides to be. Haddai has been showcased in a number of fashion shows, including the Colombo Fashion Week, and Sonali’s designs have graced the pages of magazines like Femina and Elle. Sonali also writes articles on fashion and was the fashion columnist for the Living Magazine.
Despite the glamour associated with her chosen profession, Sonali says there’s a lot more to it than sketching pretty dresses. “There is a whole lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes, such as pattern making, knowledge of fabrics, trims, and cut, quality control etc.” Sonali, who began her career in design “quite by accident”, says she used to add value to clothes with beads and embroidery. Soon she began to design clothes for friends. Eventually, she became a full-time designer. Today, Sonali “finds inspiration in life and art all around her".
“It could be something on the street or marketplace, ideas from travelling and seeing historical and cultural places in Sri lanka and overseas, motifs and designs inspired by nature and people from different walks of life. It all starts with an idea that over time and thought is created into something beautiful.”
The designer is currently hard at work putting the finishing touches to the costumes for a production of Othello.
nWhat to eat: I love restaurants on the beach! Feel the sand on your feet, a candlelit dinner with waves gently lapping the shore... pan-fried sole, chicken fillet, potato wedges and lots of freshly tossed salad. The Hikkaduwa coastline has a variety of such eating places and an option closer to Colombo is Lavinia Breeze in Mount Lavinia. Rice and curry though is a must for lunch. Other favourite restaurants in Colombo are the Lagoon at Cinnamon Grand and Royal Thai at Cinnamon Lakeside.
nWhere to visit: Down south, the hills and Nilaveli. I love to travel and explore places and prefer to stay away from commercial sites. The whole idea should be about getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life into the quietness and tranquillity of nature...taking in different sites and customs. Sri Lanka is so blessed to have beautiful beaches on one side, the hill country and also our historical sites, it all goes to make this land an exciting and lovely place to explore.
nWhat to read: Christian books and devotionals, poetry and autobiographies. Currently reading Case for Christ by Lee Strobel.
nWhat to listen to: Now that’s a total mix. Depending on my mood I listen to a lot of worship songs, and at other times ballads, big band music, rhythm and blues and a bit of pop. Choirs like the Merry Ann Singers and Revelations who sing gospel music are on the top of my list.
nWhat to watch: Sunset on the beach, rain falling on leaves, people going about their daily business, a good movie. Love theatre, particularly plays on the works of Shakespeare and Broadway style musicals...not much into television. Animals in their natural habitat --watching elephants relax near a stream somewhere off Polonnaruwa, deer grazing quietly by a watering hole and a host of birds taking off into the skies at Wilpattu.