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Peering into the World of Fashion with Charuni Divakara

The world of fashion is in no means in need of an introduction to glamour and a grandeur perception, especially with the likes of Donatella Versache, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford and the maestro Ralph Lauren at the helm of the industry in the 21st century.

The industry has risen to an extent where each designer brings a new look, feel and style to his/her masterpieces and at the end of the day, it’s an elegant piece of art that you purchase and proudly flaunt as you notice the subtle attention.

We all need some inspiration to accept ourselves and dress up in clothes that express our personality clearly and elegantly, for some reason it adds a form of assertiveness that uplifts our emotions.

A woman should be two things, classy and fabulous.

The words of Coco Chanel resonate in my ears as I approach the extremely talented and stunning Charuni Divakara, hoping to get a glimpse into the world of fashion through the eyes of an expert.

A gentle soul who comes off as a lady of class and substance, who’s more than accommodating when it comes to imparting her industry knowledge, is seen hard at work. A smile radiates across her face as I ask her for a quick interview on her perspectives on the fashion industry.

Q: Let’s start off with a brief introduction about yourself, shall we?
Yes, of course. I am Charuni Divakara, I studied at Musaeues College. Even though I was born to a family which had a mix of law and force I took a different path and went on to Academy of design (AOD) for higher studies to get my bachelors, where I got my first introduction to the fashion industry. I have been working in the fashion industry for 5 years now and what more can I say loving every bit of it as that’s where my passion is.

Q: Do you have any pets?
Yes! I do have four pets actually, two dogs and two cats, they are more like my kids.

Q: So, why do people call you Tikiiri?
Its Tikii, actually it was given by one of my closest friends years back on a random evening after a cup of tea, we kind of gave each other pet names and ‘Tikii’ continued to stay with me even after years.

Q: If I were to ask you how you would classify Charuni what would you say?
A simple yet mysterious human who is full of life and love.

Q: When did you decide that fashion designing was a passion you’d want to pursue as a career?
Even before I joined AOD I recognized my passion towards creativity, being in the fashion industry is much bigger than all that shines on a runaway, it’s more of creating a lifestyle understanding certain human behaviours as gaining more experience over the years I have realized that I don’t belong only to the fashion industry as I can use my creative mindset of creating and changing lifestyles in different industries and that has changed my future goal in a positive way.

Q: When did your journey of becoming a designer commence?
I think my journey of becoming a designer or where I first felt what I was doing, was when I saw my graduation collection and when I walked down the runway, as it was me coming out as a designer in public and ever since that journey never stopped and every time I see my creation or see it serves a purpose then, that gives certain satisfaction.

Q: How has that exposure influenced you as a designer?
It gave me an insight as to what exactly goes behind & amount of hard work and dedication you need and how all of that pays off well then you see the final outcome
Exposure always helps you to learn new things and grow.

Q: What types of designs do you specialize in?
Currently working at G-flock, I have been handling evening wear department and that’s where I give my most attention to but overall as a designer can adapt into different segments. Personally, right now my personal preference is to be in many creative departments as I believe a designer whose boundaries are pushed can be specialized in many different departments.

Q: How does your current job role enable you to explore your creativity?
Surprisingly my current job role has not only enabled me to explore my creativity, it has helped me to explore myself more and my purpose, it has given me the freedom to find a new self within me and to push boundaries and it does surprise me at times how all this has shaped me for better.

Q: When conceptualizing a ‘look’ do you target on a specific theme and then follow up on it?
Sometimes yes, I do target on a specific theme, especially during certain seasons but apart from that to keep on bringing designs every week and keep the same excitement is a challenge but can be done through continuous research and development and always has to have an open mind and ready to inspire on the go.

Q: How has your industry expertise assisted you in the café/restaurant industry?
As I mentioned earlier, my job role at G-flock has let me explore many sides of me, it was creativity I was practising in different forms of product and services, and it’s my knowledge, method, creativity and my 3Ds (drive, determination, discipline) I have learnt to apply it into a different product. Its blueprint that I carry, and being able to adapt in a chaotic situation like this is a way of surviving. As a woman its not every day you get the opportunity to explore, therefore I take all the opportunities comes my way as blessings.

Q: What are your immediate ambitions for G-Flock?
My immediate ambition would be for G-flock to be known for its beautiful vision towards humanity and for now it`s only known by the people who are inside and they are in love with it but the day it comes out through execution and the day society falls in love with the brand and understands its cause , I’ll be satisfied as someone who contributed toward this from the beginning.

Q: We’ve seen some of your designs on the ramp, so, in your experience what would you consider your most exciting and challenging show?
It will be my first show at Mercedes fashion week, the excitement and nervous level was unexplainable. It was the beginning of everything.

Q: You’ve accomplished so much at such a young age, what would you aim towards as your next achievement? A brand of your own perhaps?
Actually the company I work for has a strong vision and that has rooted in me now as well and that fulfils my end goal, therefore, I have no intention of starting my own brand but I do have intentions of getting recognized and to be known as someone who has contributed to the society.

Q: How do you segregate between work and your social life?
There`s no segregation, it’s that you live a happy life where everything’s fulfiled in the same lifestyle. If you take time out for segregations its take time and energy from you and that creates a disconnection with your end goal. If you find passion in what you do and believe in your vision then everything will balance out itself and you will not feel like you are working you need to take segregate a separate time for something else.

Q: Where would you go if you had the chance to go on a paid holiday?
I would love to go to a place far away from the city, a place that I could connect with nature.

Q: Charuni looks like a ‘trouble maker’ have you ever gotten in any embarrassing or troublesome situations?
Oh yes! Many times, I have been in such situations.

Q: What’s the first thing you’d miss if you were stranded in a jungle?
Home.

Q: What would your typical weekend look like?
Getting some me time and also maybe with my loved ones.

Q: H&M or VB?
H&M, Kinda grew up with the brand.

Q: Marc Jacobs or Tom Ford?
Tom ford, love their aesthetic and the way they are maintaining the brand, it’s hard not to love that brand.

Q: Would G-Flock consider designing Batik wear?
G-flock might, we at G-flock always tries to bring innovative exciting things for our valued customers, and therefore we definitely will tap into different ways to execute fashion.

Q: Have you considered launching a collaborative collection with a local designer?
Yes, I actually would like to collaborate with Lankan talent as I believe there’s a lot of hidden talent in our country that needs a platform to shine

Q: What would you highlight as your favourite brands?
I love Versace, Apple, Disney, SpaceX.
I think I’m more connected with their back story and that has impressed me on a personal level to fall in love with these brands and to appreciate them.

Q: Whom would you look towards for inspiration in the world of fashion?
Ranil Willaddarage, the reason I look up to him for inspiration is that he is someone I have seen personally and someone who has guided me & changed me for better, someone who has given me a purpose.  He has created industries in most difficult times & has always pushed the boundaries towards his beautiful vision without any ulterior motives, his selflessness, his dedication and his immense talent keeps me motivated to make myself better each and every day.

Q: What are your thoughts on the local fashion industry and where do you see Sri Lanka on the global fashion map in the next five years?
As I mentioned on a previous question, our beautiful island is filled with talents waiting to shine, as things are changing and people are coming out I see a bright future for the local fashion industry in the global market. We will always stand out when we take our authenticity to an international platform as there`s so much power in our roots to stand out.

Q: In your opinion how have fashion shows like Colombo Fashion Week & Mercedes Fashion Week helped uplift the fashion industry and budding designers?
I have been a part of Mercedes fashion week and it has helped me to step into this industry. I am glad these are recognized and celebrated in the country because so much of young talent can be born through these.

“Creativity is a blessing it’s freedom don’t hide it, don’t let it frame into only a certain segment,  let it fly high and keep on exploring, the journey will definitely surprise you, nothing comes easy, you will fail many times but never give up and trust me, in the end, it’s all worth it. – Charuni Divakara

 

Charuni Divakara is an extremely creative and versatile Sri Lankan designer whose designs are available at G-Flock.

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