Sonali Dharmawardena is both an artist and a designer. She ventured using the medium of batik, a heritage art of Sri Lanka into her line of couture for both fashion shows and on a retail line.
Sonali first found her recognition out of Sri Lanka. Almost five years after the fashion shows in UK, Middle East, Malaysia and France, Colombo Fashion Week invited her. She has been on the local ramp for five years thereafter.
Her designs have been used by leading international retailers. A retailer from Switzerland used her fabric for their own line, as did a more recent New York based designer.
On 14 August this year Sonali was invited to showcase her collection at the Ms. England contest in Coventry dressing the 15 semi-finalists.
She feels it’s the first time that a Sri Lankan designer has been used to present her collection for an international pageant on her own home turf. It may also be the first time batik heritage art has been worn by Western contestants for their national contest.
The ‘Sonali Dharmawardena’ and ‘Acushla’ labels are both registered trademarks of Sonali Dharmawardena.
She felt her being interviewed on stage, while adding value, gave her an opportunity to not just talk of her work and her brand, but truly promote her country which is really reflected in her work.
Sonali spoke candidly about the lack of support even when opportunities come their way for people to maximise opportunities. Over the years, she has noticed ‘favourites’ due to affiliations or associations rather than talent or professionalism are favoured and valued in the local community. She felt a need for this to change to put Sri Lanka on the map.
She was glad to have been blessed with both the opportunity and the resources to make not just her label but Sri Lanka proud through her success at Ms. England in Coventry this year!