A STORY OF FASHION IN FILM
Kasuni Rathnasuriya, Dimon John and Charitha Attalage
How can the genre of film accentuate the nuances of fashion? The visuality of fashion is heightened by film as it allows for the depiction of a story, highlighting the artistic scope of a designer collection. KÛR by Kasuni Rathnasuriya for its recent SS2019 Collection developed a fashion film, ‘Handmade’ to present its innate relationship with Sri Lanka. Directed by Dimon John with music composed by professional Charitha Attalage, this fashion film beautifully captures the narrative of KÛR through inventive presentations of surrealism and abstract storytelling.
KÛR was launched in Sri Lanka in 2009 after Kasuni graduated with a degree in Fashion Design from Academy of Design. In 2010 she won the award of British Council Young fashion Entrepreneur- 2011. Her showcase at HSBC Colombo Fashion Week in 2010 followed by international showcases in the UK, USA and Australia paved way for Kasuni to enhance her authentic designer wear inspired by her Sri Lankan roots. The SS2015 Collection was a part of the RAW Artists show in New York, while the SS2016 Collection was unveiled at the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival (SCFF), Queensland, Australia. Since 2016, KÛR showcases at the prestigious New York Fashion Week (NYFW). KÛR is based in New York City now and Kasuni believes that the city’s diversity has helped the story of the brand gain more resonance with people.
The two other artists involved is the creation of ‘Handmade’ are Dimon John and Charitha Attalage. Dimon John is a film director and a screenwriter who began his career as a graphic designer and is now an independent assistant director. His debut short film ‘Waves Interrupted’ (2018) was acclaimed at both local and international film festivals. Charitha Attalage is a French-born Sri Lankan music producer who is currently based in Los Angeles and is a trained classical Tabla player. For the last 10 years, he has worked as a composer, recording artist, music producer, lyricist and audio engineer.
The film ‘Handmade’ begins in a typical Sri Lankan colonial house, with an elderly, adept lady weaving lace using traditional weaving equipment. The mannequin comes alive, as the garment is designed, incorporated with other material and finally put together. As the newly born young woman discovers nature and its numerous enchantments, the lace gives her character, beauty and a sublime sensitivity captured in the film with clever use of lighting, colours and music. Kasuni, along with her co-creators Dimon and Charitha engaged in conversation with ARTRA, about how the film captured the identity of KÛR while telling the story of lace weaving in Sri Lanka at New York Fashion Week.
Q | What is the story of KÛR?
Kasuni | KÛR is a contemporary women’s wear line which incorporates handmade lace into contemporary fashion defining authenticity as luxury by revitalizing an age old dying craft from Sri Lanka. Our handmade craft with fine detailing is designed for the contemporary woman with an aspiration for a hallmark product seeking serenity and freedom.
Q | What is the relationship you personally see between fabric and film?
Kasuni | Lace weaving is the climax of this film. We wanted to share the story through a fantasy realm, and represent the timelessness and finesse of this craft in contemporary fashion. As the lifeless doll comes alive in KÛR’s creation, she becomes a time traveller who experiences real life in her journey. It shows that she can represent herself boldly to the world. The second character represents another community and shares the story of diversity. The lace craftsmanship and the finest fabric represent throughout the story in a seamless stand point.
Q | What motivated you to be a part of a fashion film, and what was the unique proposition that it offered to you as visual/performance professionals? Dimon | I have always been interested in fashion and textile, and it pleased me to experiment with unconventional and abstract storytelling methods using fashion as its core. KÛR uses old handmade beeralu lace craft as the basis of the brand’s contemporary designs. So I developed a fantasy story that’s happening in a surreal world far away, quite like folklore, that could capture the idea.
Charitha | I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of this fashion film as it provided me with a novel context. To ensure that music translates the varying stages of this fashion film, I composed music in three different phases; Phase one starts with a disturbed tenderness in the music arrangement depicting the troubled yet enduring sentimentality of women. Thereafter, phase two is a change of sound expressing newness. The mood is maintained to build upon how new life (art) is born with hopes to explore in order to identify its place in nature (in the market). Phase three is all about survival. Music was created to give a Neoclassical feeling to the audience not aiming comfort but a stubbornness of attitude towards entering a new door along one’s roots aligned.
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