Designer Diaries - Winners of Chokolaate MDFD 2019

Designer Diaries - Winners of Chokolaate MDFD 2019

Feature by Nethmi Liyanapathirana

Photography by Praveen Mirando

If there’s one thing Chokolaate has always managed to do, it’s support and provide uplifting platforms for up and coming talent. The Mother Daughter Fashion Designer contest, having been established over a decade ago, is one such venture! 

Our 10th annual MDFD Fashion Show, held on the 7th of July at The Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, started off with a bang and brought to light the incredible talent of all the designers who had made it to the finals. However, as the competition got tougher, 4 designers were able to outshine the others, and took home trophies to commemorate their victories on the MDFD stage. 

Here’s a closer look at these 4 sensational designers! 

Senaly Gamage - Chokolaate Choice Award Winner/Most Popular Designer 

Other than her unquestionable talent at creating flawless design-wear, if there’s one other thing Senaly’s definitely got covered - it’s her people skills! Not only did her Tusker inspired design line manage to take home the Chokolaate Choice Award, but also managed to make her the Most Popular Designer of the contest.

What Inspired you to pursue a career in Fashion Design ? 

I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer ever since I was 11 years old! From receiving my first sewing machine at 13 to sketching and designing my own dresses by my early teens - I’ve always had a knack for this. 

How did you come up with the theme you based your design on? 

My theme was called a ‘tribute to tuskers’ and it revolved around elephant poaching and animal cruelty. I wanted my designs to make the statement that, fashion can be cruelty-free, and you don’t need to harm another being just to be “fashionable”.


As a pioneer of the Lankan fashion industry, what aspects of fashion do you think Sri Lankan designers should focus on in time to come? 

One word - Sustainability. I believe we need to innovate our design process and use existing technology to strive towards sustainability as much possible! 

Ruwini Kalatunga - 2nd Runner Up 

This incredibly talented designer is a firm believer of creative individuality, and was more than capable of showcasing her very own authenticity at the MDFD 2019. Her fashion line was truly breath taking and won her a place as the 2nd runner up at this year’s contest! 

What made you consider a career in Fashion Design?

My passion for design stems from my childhood and my mother, who was also an inspiring at-home tailor. Besides, I’ve always loved the learning process that comes with it - so here I am pursuing design as a career! 

What inspired you to come up with the theme you based your designs on ?

Even though Sri Lanka doesn’t have the four weather based seasons, in western countries it was Spring time when first I applied for the contest. Inspired by the colorful vibrance of Spring, I decided to select “vintage floral” as my theme for the show! 

Any advice for novice designers looking to start their careers in fashion ? 

Creativity has no limit, so trust your instincts. Follow your heart and give it your 200% - it’s sure to take you places! 

Vidyashini Selladurai - Winner for Best Evening Wear/ 1st Runner Up 

This unique designer managed to wow audiences with her stunning designs, for which she not only bagged the winning trophy for the best line of evening wear at MDFD 2019, even managed to become the 1st runner up with her goth-inspired collection! 

Why did you select the theme “gothic black“ for the showcase?

I really wanted to show people that just like you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can never judge a person based on what they wear. So in hopes of changing the Lankan stigma that revolves around “gothic black” outfits, I decided to base my designs on this monochrome colour scheme. 

 How difficult was the process leading up to the contest? Any specific hurdles you had to overcome? 

The preparation process was very difficult, and yes - there were many hurdles. I live in Kandy so starting with the long drives to Colombo for fitting appointments, to all those walks down Pettah and Pamunuwa in search for the perfect fabric, it was pretty tiresome! 

But overall I think it was quite a learning experience and I managed things very well indeed.

What are your plans for your future in fashion? 

I plan on creating non-toxic clothing and design wear. This concept is a challenging one because it uses organic cotton and herbal dyes, and I can only begin once I am done with my studies, but I want to contribute towards the future of fashion in the most sustainable way possible - so that’s my plan! 

Thaarangani Manivannan - Winner for Best Casual Wear/ Winner for Best Sports Wear/ Overall Winner of MDFD 2019!

What inspired you to become a Fashion Designer? 

I don’t design clothes, I design dreams" - Ralph Lauren. This quote has always resonated with me and somehow I’ve always managed to implement it in to my life. I’ve admired colour and architecture ever since I can remember, and somewhere along the line I think my love for the creative morphed into the love I have for design! 

What was the preparation period like? Any challenges? 

For me the pattern making was the hardest part when preparing for the contest! Every single piece I designed had surprising elements that was designed to “transform” each look into two signature outlooks. So yes - it was challenging! 

As a budding Lankan designer, what do you think local designers should focus on more often ? 

Sri Lanka is renowned for its beauty of craftsmanship and architecture, so I think us designers should find ways to include the authentic nature of Sri Lankan tradition into our designs - with a slight urban twist.

Anything you’d like to say to up and coming designers in the industry looking for inspiration? 

Just be yourself. Design is all about incorporating your own personality into your work, and if you have the imagination to look at things in an artistic angle - that’s all the inspiration you will need!  

Read more of our interview with our MDFD designres in Issue 51 of Chokolaate Magazine in stores and online now!

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