One certainly can’t get enough of beautiful batik, silk and handloom designs. Incorporating all these textures and styles is the new fashion label Redpierrot, the brainchild of Duleeka Ratnayake. A qualified designer having graduated from the University of Moratuwa’s School of Design, she loves experimenting with both silks and cottons to create her original designer batiks and nature inspired vibrant handlooms. The following are excerpts from an interview.
What or who inspires you, as a person and as a designer?
I am inspired by late British designer Alexander McQueen who had a unique sense of style. I am also inspired by Mrs. Yolanda Aluvihare, who is one of my favourite Sri Lankan designers. I learnt a lot about the industry from her when I was completing my internship after university. As a person, I am inspired by the endless bounties that nature offers.
Have you always had an artistic flair?
As long as I remember, I have always liked to draw and paint things that caught my interest. I started drawing as a child and my love for capturing the beauty of nature is an integral part of who I am. I love to use bold colours and patterns which I often borrow from natures greatest gifts – flowers, birds and especially butterflies.
What or who has inspired you and how easy/difficult is this to translate into clothes?
I grew up loving nature and her colour palette has been part of my inspiration. My work is also inspired by the wonderful traditions that are representative of the culturally and historically rich Kandyan era. Combining rich cultural dimensions with an equally diverse array of colours is a challenge which I enjoy very much.
Would you say that your designs are for everyone? Women of every age?
I design clothes for modern women who appreciate comfort and style. My designs transcend traditional boundaries.
What drives you and what do you like to do in your free time?
My hobby is and has always been fashion designing. I am very lucky that now it has become my chosen career. In my free time, between designing and running my boutique, I love to experiment with cooking.
Family or career first?
Buddhism teaches us to walk the middle path. I will always try to balance my career and my family.
What are your future plans?
I have long road ahead. Eventually, I want to expand my work and explore new design techniques and innovative ways of doing things. These days, I am experimenting with new techniques for different kinds of material.
What’s the inspiration behind the name Redpierrot?
The Redpierrot is a small yet strikingly beautiful butterfly found in our home gardens. It was the inspiration behind the very first saree I designed when I was studying fashion design at the University of Moratuwa. Having completed the design, I realized that it was a unique branding opportunity and ‘Redpierrot’ was born.
What makes your designers unique and unlike others on the market?
Handloom material and custom made garments may not be a new concept. However, my designs are exclusive and created using eco-friendly and sustainable material. I also like to design my clothes based on themes from nature. Women of all ages come to my boutique for custom designed sarees and other garments and it shows that people appreciate what I am doing.
Redpierrot is located at 17/4A, Stratford Avenue, Gandhara Street, Colombo 6.
I had a fetish once for handmade jewellery. That was all I wore and was interesting in buying whenever I went shopping. This fetish has somehow toned down a bit over the years however but I do appreciate hand-crafted jewellery every now and then.
Recently I came across a new handmade jewellery brand that was initiated by a very close office colleague of mine. ALKE is all about jewellery, restoring and repairing your all time favourites. I’m not all too sure about the restoring and repairing part of her business but her handmade products are beautiful and truly one of a kind.
I love that her pieces of jewellery are unlike others found available here in Sri Lanka. Who would have thought a gold sprayed sea shell pendant necklace would look so cool with a day look? I just love this piece and perhaps will get my hands on it very soon!
I’m also a huge earrings fan and she makes these lovely woven thread earrings, that also go along the lines of having a ombre and mixed toned look. Her bead and wire pendants are a huge rave and I find them to be extremely chic because of the pop of colour beneath the wrapped around wire. The pearls are mixed in colour as well which add a very unique look to it on the whole.
I don’t usually wear much on my wrists but I do love the occasional bangle or two and her handmade ones are striking pieces. They’re made of woven thread around the circular hoop and then further topped with gold wire to give it an additional pop of colour and chicness. So cool!
So if you want to get your hands on any of these beauties, head over to her Facebook page and drop an inbox message or email her at email@example.com 🙂
Whatever they may be called, homes, buildings, structures and landmarks that attached the past to the present, they are certainly of great interest. Not only are they interesting to look at, but the fact that each has a story of their own to tell gives it a more mystical aroma and enchanting feel.
Heritage homes are not hard to come across in the city of Colombo, if one looks carefully. Some may be part torn apart, a few converted into something new and different, and a handful refurbished to add more grandeur. I’d already written a few pieces on heritage homes for the local newspapers I freelance for and this was one of my first pieces. Enjoy reading! The tale of Casa Colombo
“The idea was to build a boutique hotel and I wanted an old building to make the cut. Old buildings in Colombo are very edgy and have great interiors, they are beautiful in their own way and in my mind the marriage of the old and the new was striking. The idea was to find an old building that fits the description and then renovate and turn it into a boutique hotel” said Lalin Jinasena, Founder and Designer of Casa Colombo.
Searching high and low for the right type of building certainly didn’t come easy for Lalin. After looking at plenty of old houses and buildings in the Fort the idea to look in that area was shut down due to the high security at the time; “there were certainly lovely old buildings, broken down, in bad condition, not too large, some too small but the security was an issue” he said.
After a few more looks at homes and buildings, Lalin finally settled in on the current structure of Casa Colombo. Of all houses he had taken a prior look at, the magnificent 200 year old house was in bad condition; the ceiling on the top floor had fallen in so whenever it rained the interior would be soaked, trees had grown into the bathrooms, and the plaster was peeling off the ceiling. The front part of the house was blackened, whereas the back was home to jeeps that had been half buried in the soil. Utter bad condition but Lalin saw potential. It was the right size and yes, although there might have been a lifetime’s worth of work to get it to look new and renovated, he saw something in the house.
“She was positively in a terrible state but there was something, a magic and mystic about the place – to me she looked like a grand old lady. There was so much of charisma underneath all the grub and gore” he said.
The house was built by an Indian family. Like every household in the neighbouring country, the household itself consisted of more than one family and therefore houses were built in accordance. Local artisans and workers were not familiar with their style of architecture and design; hence Indian workers were brought down to Sri Lanka and commissioned to build it. The grounds stretched to the current Galle Road from the front, possibly towards Vajira Road and Dickman’s Road (Sir Lester James Peries Mawatha) on either side and Duplication Road at the back. The first owner was an Indian trader and went by the name of Abbas Yusuf Ali. “The descendants of the family still live in Colombo and visit Casa Colombo occasionally. Their grandparents have lived in the house and tell tales of their days when they come by” added Lalin.
The house, which was handed down to a few people was at the time leased by a private owner to the Government Census Board. “They didn’t really care about the building at all; whenever it rained they would just shift their desks into a room where the ceiling wasn’t torn apart and just deal with it. When my father came to have a look at it, he just slapped in hand on his face and walked away! He knew I had vision and left it to me. The struggle between another bidder on the house was tough but in the end the house was mine and the plan was to get it up and running as a boutique hotel in five months. Yes, it seems like something unachievable but I wanted to get it done because we were paying rent and I wanted the business to get a good start”
Saying that there was a lot to get done in a matter of five months is an understatement. When restoration of the house began in the month of August 2006, the ceiling had to be dealt with first. Each room and living area had a mural pattern of its own which made it much harder to replicate but Lalin added that moulds of the existing murals were taken at the time and asked to be replicated by local artisans. It would have been a mighty task to complete because the murals are undeniably unique and were initially added by Indian artisans. Next, the floor had to be sorted; again the mosaic patterns are unique and needed to be washed, redone and retiled. Some of the patterns and designs of the ceiling murals and floor mosaic were redone based on imagination of what the actual pattern and design might have looked like. The scheme of the house was such that about four households could live in; typical Indian household, so every room opened up to another. The centre of the upper and lower level of the house were meeting and gathering points. Therefore some doors had to be closed up and all rooms were redone so that it totalled to a sizable dozen.
Every belonging in the house right now was designed by Lalin himself and crafted, created, stitched, carved, and made in Sri Lanka. “I didn’t want to buy items from a store and fill up the space so whilst work was going on in the house, I was busy keeping an eye on things and also designing every square inch of the house; from the curtain holders to taps. The pluming was redone, the electricity needed to be changed and fixed; the lighting had to be created to create atmosphere. Bathrooms were needed to be installed in rooms that did not have one” he said. The backyard had to be put right; jeeps were hauled away and further digging gave way to the existing pink pool. Unfortunately it took an additional two months to get the boutique hotel on its feet and ready for clients. However, the turnover is unbelievable.
For anyone who steps into the vicinity of Casa Colombo today, the resemblance of the old Moor Indian Home and current retro-chic boutique hotel is clear to see. The marriage of the old and the new, like Lalin said, really works!
Yes, it gets pretty hot and blaring in my country. Sri Lanka is one of the many Asian country’s that experiences a lot of heat throughout the year so you always have to be prepared to dress up accordingly. Our people mainly focus on keeping a casual chic look during the day because one tends to get hot and sweaty at random times if the humidity level rises. Many of the clothing brands and labels available therefore tend to focus on easy-going, light and airy type of wear. Here’s an in-depth read about one that recently launched a range of lovely tropical linens.
Flavoured by the tropics and swathed by the exotic beauty of an island where the sun, sand and sea is undoubtedly a way of life, COCO Linens is all about comfort. Hot Sri Lankan summers paint beautiful hues of a colourful tropical paradise, insisting that the golden sun and balmy breezes enliven a feel of freedom with friendliness. COCO Linens infuses that feel of freedom into a range of solid and printed linen dresses, shorts, crops, palazzo pants and maxi skirts. Simply ‘Flirt with Linen’ and don absolute comfort as you slip into a printed shift dress or feel stylish in pleated or embroidered linens, some embellished with pintucks. Being in Vogue, is the hallmark of COCO Linens, which gives you the option of being hot and snazzy or cool and charming or even a little bit of both at the same time. But being flirty is not just for the ladies, COCO Linens also instils an elegant casualness to the man who wants to be stylishly cool. Get in with the earthy tones of whites, camel and havana, create a jaunty air in tango or yellow or be the maverick in printed linens of turquoise and pinks. Going ethnic with kurtas can be an option, while adding a dash of dapper with a coterie of tropical hued shirts into the wardrobe of the man about town, is surely compulsory in the style files. A linen collection for cute little ones is also available, ensuring that shopping at Cotton Collection is a fashionable experience for all age groups. Let COCO Linens flirt with your style, tweak your imagination and create a space for your unique individuality. Embrace the island life; be cool, be hot, be chic, be swanky. Make COCO Linens your lifestyle, and live life passionately in this island in the sun.
COCO Linens are available at Cotton Collection, No. 143 Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 07.
The collection includes three luxury fragrance sachets that uniquely combine natural volcanic minerals with pure essential oils to infuse your living spaces with rich natural aromas. I love their jasmine range so this was a change for me as I haven’t previously purchased anything of their products in the Cardamom Rose range. However, I was surprised when I found myself loving this fragrance as well. It doesn’t come across as strong and overwhelming as you’d think and I suppose that’s one reason why I like it. Each sachet ingredients are individually blended to ensure the natural well-being benefits of the essential oils are preserved well and truly. They are meant to soothe, calm and relax the mind, body and soul. I’m yet to start using them so let’s see if the sachets live up to what their supposed to do.
The sachet and gift box are adorned with royal insignia inspired by the Royal Kandyan courts of ancient Ceylon. This is something you’ll notice in many of the products by Spa Ceylon. If you want to know more about the brand and their products, check out their site.
How To Use
Remove cellophane covers and place sachets in suitable locations, preferably close to air vents, inside pillow cases, in wardrobes between clothes, suitcases or under drawer liners. To refresh the aroma add a few drops of the Spa Ceylon Essential Oil Blend to each sachet as required.
So… here’s the thing; everyone uses a scrub of some sort on some part of their body right? A face scrub, a body scrub and possibly a foot scrub too, so I was thinking of creating a tag where bloggers talk about their favourite types in one post. I’ve never created a tag before and I don’t even know if such a tag already exists but I do want to talk about my favourites so here goes 😀
I’m a huge Clean & Clear fan so my favourite face scrub is the Morning Burst Facial Scrub. This is an oil-free scrub that comes with bursting beads, and not only actually wakes you thanks to its fruity aroma but also exfoliates and nourishes with vitamin c and ginseng. I don’t use it on a daily basis although it does claim it is ideal for daily use. I actually prefer using it on alternative days just to allow my skin to breathe occasionally. The first week I used this product, I noticed a drastic change in my skin. It looked fresh and bright after just three uses and I love that it leaves my face smelling all fruity too. The back description continues to say this formula gets rid of dullness and tired looking skin to reveal softer and more radiant skin and I for one can definitely vouch for that because it works on my skin. The formula is really not too thick and heavy so a little bit is really all I need to scrub on to my face. I generally focus on my nose, cheeks and chin because those are my problem areas and after a couple of uses, my face does show a great difference.
This one is a new favourite but I can say for sure that it would remain the same for a long time. I recently discovered The Body Shop Limited Edition Blueberry Body Scrub Gel. I know it’s not available any longer and I’m totally upset with myself for not having purchased more because I am totally in love with this scrub. It’s got the most amazing texture that is a combination between a typical body scrub and a shower gel. I don’t know if that makes any sense but if you’re someone who has tried this out, you’ll definitely understand what I’m trying to say. Second reason why I love this is purely because of the fruit blueberry fragrance. I wasn’t a huge fan of blueberries but one whiff of this and I was totally hooked. I use this very sparingly because I don’t want to finish it but if you really want a good all-over-the-body scrub, you do have to be a little generous with the amount you take out. It includes little blueberry seeds that exfoliate well and leave your body feeling soft, fragrant and clean.
My go-to foot scrub with always remain a local favourite and that is the Spa Ceylon Green Mint Cooling Foot Scrub. I honestly believe that there is nothing to beat this product because it is made of all natural ingredients including lime peel to help remove rough patches on the feet, peppermint and lemongrass to cool and refresh, margosa and virgin coconut oil to nourish, soothe and relax. I do not think there is any other foot scrub out there that includes all these amazing ingredients and does and amazing job. I like to use the scrub after a foot soak (I also use the Spa Ceylon Green Mint Reviva Foot Soak) and give my feet a good relaxing session every once in a while. The aroma is divine and I am a sucker for green mint and lemongrass so this is more than ideal for someone like me. Most of all, I love that my feet are squeaky clean, refreshed and fragrant all day after I use it.
I’m also tagging some the fellow bloggers I follow to share their favourites and maybe even continue the tag 🙂
I know I uploaded a picture of the same book as my Weekly Snap but I did write a review of the book for the local newspaper I freelance for and I thought I’d post a few of the paragraphs here on my blog for you all to see as well.
A human race has a few faces which show again and again in far apart places. Lift the curtains of differing tones to see the same forms appear in the planes and facial geometry.
As a native of Sri Lanka, Barbara Sansoni has seen many a varied featured faces. Her most recent book of drawings – A Passion for Faces – includes these very faces that captured her eye and thoughts.
I’ve yet to come across something I don’t like in this book. It’s quite hefty and leans more towards a coffee table kind of book but I’d also like seeing it on personal libraries in line with others in relation to art and history. Yes, I’ve gone and said it, history. Why you may ask is that I classified this as a historic type of book? Simply because I find the drawings of faces to be of those that combine the likes of traders who came into our island in search of goods and trade, foreign inhabitants who have heard tales of our beautiful island and continued to stay on and also those who have inter-married into local families. These are the faces of people from the past.
I happen to like the black and white pencil drawings the most in the book although it does include coloured drawings. To me, black and white seems to say more than a coloured picture and in this case, the same goes for the faces. It’s easier to read between the forehead lines and the cracks of the smiles, rather than having to look through the browns, nudes and tans of vibrancy. This way, one cannot always tell the cultural origin of the person one is looking at. A black and white drawing can only say so much. In this way, everyone looks like they belong to one race, class, creed and culture.
Then again, I also love the muted use of colour. There are pops of cobalt blue and sunny yellows but somehow they remain muted against the more prominent facial expressions.
One also has to admire the intensity of the eyes. They say that eyes denote the very feelings felt within one’s heart and there’s absolute innocence in every face in the book. I love that Sansoni kept it that way, intentionally or unintentionally.
‘How can I seize the laughing, flashing movement of this face?’ she questions, ‘the distortions of a smile when cheek pushes eye and teeth flash brilliantly, the pose of the head, on a neck through the arms, to the acrobatic fingers of a dancer?’.
She certainly is able to capture it somehow. It’s in the way she uses her lines and curves. After all, all faces are made up of lines and curves. The hint of a chuckle at the back of the smile and a twinkle beneath the eyes truly make her drawings more realistic than imagined. She has a knack for visualizing light and depth from a distance that make her drawings what they are.
‘Why does one draw faces? For the same reason one draws a house. To draw is to take delight in the subject one draws, to get to know it and posses it.’ Sansoni explains that it is a challenge painting and drawing her visual experiences rather than just copying the object. ‘History doesn’t make ugly things beautiful, but age does. A face after all is a house, built centuries ago by genes’.
New book to review by Sri Lankan Barbara Sansoni. I love her drawings, expecially the black and white ones. This book includes coloured drawings too and is quite aptly titled ‘A Passion for Faces’ Now available at the Barefoot Gallery.
The imposing structure that stands at No. 65, Rosmead Place is identified today as a boutique hotel, yet behind its impressive façade hides memories of an influential political ancestry; a family that governed the island for over two decades and generations lived within the halls of ‘Tintagel’. The edifice was once home to the Bandaranaikes. Gifted to S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike by his father, Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, the house served as the playground for Sunethra, Chandrika and Anura. It was amidst the Doric and Ionic colonnades of Tintagel, they first made their memories of childhood. However, many islanders recognize the palatial house as the site of the assassination of S.W.R.D Bandaranaike on 26 September 1959 by Buddhist monk Talduwe Somarama, brining his term as the fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon to an end.
Home of the elite
The iconic abode once belonged to an elite gynaecologist, physician and writer, Dr. Lucien de Zilwa. It is said that he commissioned Billimoria, a Parsi architect to build him a residence suitable for a grand family home in the year 1929. The house was completed the following year.
It was inclusive of a central corridor running from north to south; decorated with a marble fountain and colourful electric bulbs. The roof above was covered with hundreds of glass tiles. The rest of the floor boards on the ground floor were of one inch thick teak, whereas the upper level ground was completed in concrete. One room was dedicated to over 6,000 books and his daughter was said to have provided piano lessons to the elite. A tennis court, stables and ample space for soirees completed the backyard. According to the doctor’s autobiography titled ‘Scenes of a Lifetime’ the house was always flooded with light, the steps from the porch onto the veranda were completed with large solid blocks of white marble, said to have been imported from North India. Maintenance would have been expensive even during that period of time.
When naming his palatial home, he followed a trend that became popular at the time in Sri Lanka. This was to name mansion homes after British castles. And so, Dr. de Zilwa’s abode was named ‘Tintagel’ after a castle located in North Cornwall, said to have been the birthplace and home of King Arthur.
By the year 1942, the owner was given just a week’s notice to vacate his home. It was an order by the British Military whose intention was to house 100 soldiers at Tintagel. On the final day of notice, three incidents took place at the de Zilwa’s; the doctor’s oldest daughter’s birthday, his champion horse Reaction’s death by means of food poisoning and the his pet peacock being killed and partially eaten by a stray dog.
The regal family
After four years of being used as a military abode, Tintagel was finally given back to the de Zilwa family in the year 1946. Unfortunately the house was in terrible state. The entire backyard that included the tennis court, the lawn and flower garden were ploughed by lorries. The wooden teak blocks had been displaced and many of the intricately detailed lamp shades had been broken. This disheartened the gynaecologist who sold the house for less than half of what it cost him to build. Tintagel was then bought by the late Sir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike. He bought the house in the year 1947 for his son, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike who was at the time living in a rented house by the Lionel Wendt in Guildford Crescent.
S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike’s son Anura Priyadarshi Solomon Dias Bandaranaike was the only offspring who was born within the confines of Tintagel; his daughters Sunethra Dias Bandaranaike and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga grew up in this house.
A dreary turn of events
In 1959 S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, was shot in the veranda of his home by a hired gunman. He was the only three and a half years into his five year term as the Prime Minister of the country. His was the first political assassination in Sri Lanka. In the month of July 1960 his widowed wife Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike became the world’s first woman Prime Minister. In the years that followed, Anura became a Member of Parliament and his daughter Chandrika, went on to become the first female President in Sri Lanka.
The family moved out of the house sometime after the year 1960 and Tintagel was rented out to first the Burmese and then the Egyptian Ambassadors during the years 1962 and 1967 respectively. Sirimavo Bandaranaike moved back to the house during her last stint as Prime Minister in the year 2000.
Change of hands
After her mother’s death, Sunethra inherited life interest in the house and lived by herself for a period of three years after which she realized it was too big for her to live in alone. As the home of a family of politicians and a mansion in its own right, it needed to be maintained well at all times. As a close friend of Shanth Fernando’s, she called him for advice on what she should do. She also disposed of many of the furniture in the house and auctioned a few other pieces away. When it came to discussing renting the 12,000 x 14,000 square feet abode, Fernando offered to take it over.
Two years eight months later, with consent from the rest of the Bandaranaike family, Tintagel was transformed into the chic, boutique hotel it is today.
When one takes a look at Tintagel, there is more to it than the sleek white washed walls, the green shrubbery that surrounds it and the objects that fill the empty space within. The facade of the original construction still remains the same and represents the heritage, history and architectural traditions of old Ceylon. The design of the house has been transformed and does not embody its heyday design anymore. Its colonial style has been retained, with a fine combination of antiques, modern furniture and art within the interior of the house.
Stepping within the surrounding walls and shrubbery, one would notice that every addition is in perfect alignment with its architecture. There is a place for everything; both the old and the new. Almost nothing feels like it is out of place, but more like it fits and belongs. The front courtyard is complemented by a water fountain and two large louvered urns topped with topiary bushes that flank the entrance doorway on either side. The rear walls were raised and more vines were added to camouflage the surrounding so that seclusion is granted. Every detail of the house and all items of decoration have been carefully selected and designed to suit the preference of its current proprietor and designer, Shanth Fernando. “It will be years in the month of November, since Tintagel opened doors as a boutique hotel. What must be noted is that this is an extension of who I am; an extension and reflection of my personal taste. All the changes were accomplished without affecting the original architecture of the house. When everything was complete, we were able to still retain a distinct colonial style” he said.
Today, there are ten suites with two-toned combinations of colour. A keen eye on detail and exterior designing was brought in by architect Philip Weeraratne. Sofas were brought in from Spain, carpets woven in Kathmandu, an antique mirror from Paris, moss balls from Germany, ceramic vases from The Netherlands and framed original lithographs of the Court of Arms of major cities from 1872, written in Dutch. The upper level concrete floor was replaced with wooden boarding. And an impressive grand piano stands in the lobby.
The character, aura and history of the structure are unmistakable. The distinction between all three makes Tintagel what it is today; an abode steeped with heritage, walls that whisper the tales of yesteryear and reminiscences of memories from long ago.