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British Royal Princess Anne meets AOD’s emerging fashion talent during official visit; witnesses UK-Sri Lankan Creative Collaborations led by AOD

Wednesday, 21st of February 2024

AOD’s unique academic approach to fashion education combining craft and sustainability with international sensibilities appreciated by Princess Anne.

When Princess Anne recently visited Sri Lanka, AOD students were part of an event that gave them the opportunity to personally share their work and meet, HRH Princess Anne who viewed the work of few students from the class of 2023 and few alumni, who presented their collections involving heritage crafts, natural yarns and recycled materials. A handwoven shawl handcrafted in Sri Lanka using local materials and designed and created by AOD Fashion alum Natharlea Yahampath was presented to Princess Anne.

This meeting was a celebration of UK - Sri Lankas creativity and true impact of AOD’s decades-long partnership with the UK to provide world-class design education in South Asia. AOD forged one of the most unique British Sri Lanka partnerships for providing international education within Sri Lankan shores for the creative industries. This partnership has been successful in creating globally thinking and locally inspired designers who understand the significance of sustainability in their work. Over the last two decades, as these young designers went on to become global successes, AOD has gained a reputation for being a regional breeding ground for fashion innovation that celebrates local craft heritages and sustainable ethics.

This made it interesting to put forward for the British Royal to meet these young designers from AOD. It became a powerful example of what a British-Sri Lanka education partnership can contribute to the world. This special encounter with young Sri Lankan designers undoubtedly appealed to the princess’ advocacy for sustainability in the fashion industry. Princess Anne has been president of the UK Fashion and Textile Association for 35 years and is an influential voice for sustainability in the fashion industry. Meeting these young designers who are products of British design education and Sri Lanka’s innovative take on fashion incorporating heritage and sustainability was a special view into the country.

It also gave an insight into the talent resources in Sri Lanka, and how the ties with the UK are playing an active role in supporting young talent with the involvement of catalysts like AOD. The young designers met Princess Anne at the British Council Colombo. AOD designers and alumni who were part of this included Sasandi Desilva whose heritagecentered work was selected for Graduate Fashion Week International 2024; Sandali Fernando who created a sustainable collection utilizing eco-friendly materials, including fish skins, bones, and scales, in innovative crafts like crochet and handloom; and Sonali Ferdinands whose work was a celebration of hybridity touching on colonialism, multiculturalism and the fusion of East and the West. AOD’s international star Amesh Wijesekera also showcased his work highlighting local craft, and contemporary design while reinventing the ‘Made in Sri Lanka’ narrative to a slower, brighter, and more deeply meaningful fashion statement.

AOD’s Director of Academic Affairs Professor Thomass Atkinson, stated that AOD was honoured to link the princess with its talent. “I was incredibly humbled by the experience, and opportunity for AOD graduates to showcase their work for Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne, and Vice Admiral, Sir Tim Lawrence, at the British Council. The meeting was both, inspiring and inspired, captive and attentive with conversations on areas such as; heritage craft, sustainability values, creativity, and innovative design in a single space. I was very impressed by Princess Anne’s genuine interest, and insightful perspectives on the subject of fashion and textiles, and in particular the graduates’ intelligence, and individual responses to their practices, and works some of which are now contributing to successful sustainability businesses, having a positive impact in society.

AOD was immensely appreciative for the opportunity to have shared this moment with Princess Anne, and to have gained valuable insights that I am sure the graduates will carry forward in their professional journey. This encounter augmented the importance of continuous learning, collaboration, and the potential each one of us holds to make a difference.” Professor Atkinson added that Princess Anne’s meeting with AOD designers is a refreshing approach to sharing a view of Sri Lanka, complete with its talents, heritage and material technology and AOD is proud of its partnerships with UK Design Universities like Northumbria University, and De Montfort University producing leading designers with UK qualifications.

For the students and alumni who were part of it, the meeting was an opportunity to share their work and ideas directly with a global voice in sustainable fashion with an influential reach; a chance to represent the breadth of talent in Sri Lanka and a rare honour to young creatives at early stages in their careers and academic journeys. With AOD’s doors currently open for enrollment, it extends an invitation to join its dynamic community. AOD has announced a final call for enrollment for its February 2024 intake. It’s an opportunity for aspiring creatives to take an active step towards shaping their future in design and innovation.

Contact AOD at 0775727772, email [email protected], or visit Colombo Innovation Tower, No 477, R A De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 04, between 9 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday. Don’t miss out on your chance to be part of something extraordinary, where innovation thrives and global connections are forged. Visit www.aod.lk to learn more.

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