Very recently my sister traveled to Colombo (capital of Sri Lanka) for work and came back talking about some places and things which I should recce, to feature on my blog. And one of them was PR- a fashion boutique, owned by Shanth Fernando’s (Sri Lankan design mogul) daughter, Annika Fernando. To know more about her a la mode I decided to interview the lady.
AFS: Was born in Sydney, Australia, but moved to Colombo, Sri Lanka, with my family (mother is German and father a Sri Lankan) when I was all of 8 yrs. of age. And since then this has been our home.
MD: Studies and Influences
AFS: I studied Interior Design in Melbourne, Australia. Always loved sciences but design got ingrained in me thanks to my father. He is a design entrepreneur who owns a design-oriented retail and hospitality business called Paradise Road. Also travels, magazines and basically everything I set my eyes on have inspired me.
MD: Fashion for you
AFS: I don’t like the word fashion although it’s the word which helps describe my store. I prefer the word clothing, sounds simpler! It definitely doesn’t define me. But my style ethos is simple, comfortable, lots of white and black, asymmetry, androgynous at times, a little more feminine at others….. it changes!
MD: Ways to de-stress
AFS: My life beyond work is being a mother to my now 6 year old boy. I work in the mornings mostly and go about my motherly duties in the afternoon… laptop comes out again once he’s in bed.
The beach, being around water and travelling is how I like to de-stress – don’t get to do that enough! I try to do yoga as often as possible which keeps me sane and breaks my busy schedule.
MD: How is PR helping the local community?
AFS: Creating a new retail space offers more opportunities for local designers. Fashion design in Sri Lanka is not as evolved as in India or other parts of the globe. I work hard to maintain the standard of the items sold at PR, therefore it motivates the suppliers and designers in giving their best. I sell a lot of Indian designers as well, so it offers regular exposure to our indigenous designers. My own label MAUS is also produced locally, which entails all clothing, footwear, bags and belts.
MD: What are the Sri Lankan brands you are showcasing at present?
AFS: I just introduced a new designer to the store – Charini Suriyage. Her simple cuts and fabrics in a resort line have made it hugely popular already!
Nithya is another young designer working with handloom, who has just finished her second collection for the store.
Sonali Dharmawardena is a talented batik designer and is working on a new collection for me.
And my label, MAUS which is designed by me is also produced in the country, itself. It’s a line of simple separates- setting the aesthetics of my store.
Another locally produced brand is Touché which is designed by an Italian and French duo who call Sri Lanka their home; is an elegant pret and couture.
For men, we exclusively carry Conscience, which just designed a line for Land Rover. It includes men’s shirts made of organic cotton and a limited line of very cool socks.
MD: Your vision for PR
AFS: To stick true to what I like for the store, and not just what sells.
To sell the best of Sri Lankan design and more international designers.
Stay small, stay unique.