By Easwaran Rutnam
Internationally renowned Sri Lankan fashion designer Dinesh Chandrasena, who has designed clothes for Hollywood Stars like Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford and more, says the fashion industry is a global power house, and for those like him who are involved, it is not just the “frocks and fabulousness”, but the ethical standards that need to be upheld, while nurturing the next generation of creative talents.
Dinesh was influenced by great style, and his maternal Grandmother, Erin Don Carolis, was an absolute style maven who influenced him from a very young age.
“When I was 17 years old, the local schools were shut because of internal unrest in the country (1989), and my mother who knew I loved the arts, and that I was good at sketching, said I should take part in the “Designer of the Year” contest… I participated as a complete amateur, and was placed first runner up. Of course I still continued my studies completed my London A/L’s and when it was time to go to college, with my parent’s advise decided to pursue a degree in fashion design. I went back to Los Angeles, attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and got my advanced fashion design degree from there,” he said.
Dinesh says his sister, Dinushka Chandrasena, is usually his best adviser, and also a great style arbiter who gives him insight into the realities of what a client may want.
“My niece Tehani Chandrasena is quite up to date with youth driven trends, and that also gives me an insight into a whole other area of the industry. Along with them, my dad is constantly supportive and until my mother passed away, she was always the “go to” person in any situation when support was needed,” he said.
Dinesh did Halle Berry’s wedding gown, Dressed Dame Julie Andrews for the movie “The Princess Diaries”, dressed Sandra Bullock for the movie “Miss Congeniality”, dressed Miss America 2008, Miss USA 2007, Eugenia Silva, Cindy Crawford, Dayana Mendoza, Jennifer Aniston, and in the Asian region, Jacqueline Fernandez for the IIFA Green Carpet, Sonakshi Sinha for the cover shoot of L’Officiel magazine, and the list goes on.
Asked if he has any regrets in life, Dinesh says “NONE” because in his book a person cannot drive his or her life forward looking in the rear view mirror.
“Every step that I have taken has been with conviction that it was the right step (at that time) and thus do not have any regrets. I have learned many a lesson, and look back on many instances in life with a smile,” he said.
Looking at Sri Lanka and aspiring designers Dinesh says his advice to them would be firstly for them to be themselves instead of aspiring to be someone else.
“Like the saying goes “be yourself as everyone else is taken”… Truly identify who you are, what your passions are, and what makes you “tick”… take this all into account and amplify your strengths, and grow as a designer. If you love a certain genre, a certain area of design, have the conviction to commit to it, and see it through… that I think is the recipe for success,” he said.
These days Dinesh is working with French couturier Georges Hobeika. He started working with Georges Hobeika in 2009 and handled his brand Asian debut in 2010. He has also been a guest lecturer to some amazingly talented students at the Raffles Design Institute (Pvt.) Ltd. in Sri Lanka, and seen some of the best rising stars in the many areas of the creative industry, nurtured under the guidance of Julie Ross the stellar Academic Director.
He also works with a company based in Kuwait, on a high-end ready to wear line that is showcased in Europe, and as their principle designer, has been overseeing the process from the very start. The brand’s new collection will be launched during the London fashion week in February 2013.
Dinesh has also been a creative advisor to many organizations in Sri Lanka, including Event Concept (Wizcraft) which is the premier event organizer in Sri Lanka.
“I also design under my own label, and have my private design clients, mainly in the EU, but a growing number in Asia as well,” he added.
As a person Dinesh says he is absolutely content, living in gratitude for all the amazing gifts that have been bestowed upon him, deeply spiritual, a realist, a pragmatist, always prioritizing his family, deeply moved by fine arts, a museum buff, jogging enthusiast, positive thinker, non-judgmental and blessed with wit and humor. (Courtesy The Sunday Leader)