Shehara Parera, A graduate of Lanka Institute of Fashion Technology and Mod’Art International graduated in January 2016 from Mod’Art Sri Lanka branch. Mod’Art is the only fashion campus in the country that offers fashion design and fashion management degrees from Paris. As soon as she received her degree she was employed by the only French company in the apparel sector, Noyon Lanka (Noyon Dentelle Calais and MAS Holidings Pvt Ltd established Noyon in 2005).
She now speaks of her story of reaching her dreams of her career as a young fashion designer.
1. What sparked your interest in fashion?
I’ve always had the interest in art and design. The earliest signs could be traced back to my days in school; I often found myself doodling or sketching designs whenever I had free time. Boring desk jobs were never my preference and in this industry you always keep updating to new trends, creating something new in each design which I find quite intriguing.
2. What made you choose fashion as your career?
I see the design industry to not only be all glamorous but also quite inspirational and is an amazing way of expressing your style through your designs. I chose fashion because it was the most appropriate industry for me to explore my creativity.
3. Did you enter formal fashion education?
Yes because I feel a designer needs to be qualified enough to compete in this industry because we live in a time where many have the audacity to call themselves as fashion designers with absolutely no comprehensive knowledge of the subject. It is mandatory to know beyond just drawing pretty sketches. The technical expertise, fashion business and brand management are crucial areas designers must be qualified in.
4. Tell us about your college life? Were you an active student?
I have had the best times through my years spent at college. I’ve made amazing friendships and learnt from the most qualified and supportive lecturers at Mod’Art who encouraged me immensely to achieve all my goals that indeed seemed unrealistic. They motivated me in my downfalls and helped me to improve in every way. That encouragement has guided me to succeed as a designer.
I would consider myself as an active student because I was always eager to take part in design competitions and exhibitions that would give exposure to my work. I always tried hard to get out of my comfort zone to try something different and innovative.
5. What would you state as your biggest achievement in your college life?
Apart from successfully graduating college my biggest achievement was being able to work and learn from the Parisian haute couture designer Eymeric Francois. I personally love the intricacy and exquisiteness of French haute couture and Mod’art gave us the opportunity to visit Eymeric Francois’s fashion house in Paris where we learnt so much about the Parisian haute couture artistry. Being able to learn from a well-known haute couture designer in the industry was certainly a remarkable experience.
6. Where were you employed right after your graduation?
Yes! Almost a week after I graduated, the management of Mod’art was able to find a job opportunity for me and I was called in for an interview to Noyon Lanka (pvt) ltd, a joint venture of MAS Holdings with a French lace company called Noyon Dentelle de Calais.
Fortunately all went well and a new chapter in my career began!
7. Tell us about your job role?
In simple terms it is to sketch lace designs for all types of lingerie and active wear for international lingerie brands like Victoria’s Secret, Calvin Klein, Intimissimi, Wacoal, Marks & Spencer etc. Initially, a trend prediction is given, with inspirational motifs, colors, movements etc, the designers then interpret the trend forecast with a research on the prediction. After, extracting inspiration from the trend we develop motifs and designs for the lace keeping in mind the customer preferences and styles as well as the price points. Another important aspect to keep in mind while designing is the movement path of the yarn of the lace, this is where it gets more technical and challenging. Within the restrictions of the yarn path, the price points and client tastes, the designer has to sketch the lace design and is responsible of the lace after knitting to its final stage of reaching the customer.
8. What interests you most about this career?
It’s definitely not a new subject for me since I am very passionate about drawing and lingerie designing. I learn limitlessly everyday working closely with professionals in the industry. Working with a leader in the Sri Lankan apparel industry, I am constantly encouraged to grow with self-empowerment by taking up responsibilities and risks in the corporate environment. We are also given much exposure with travelling for international lingerie fairs, training programs etc. Most of all I am blessed to be working with an amazing design team and I’m looking forward to making a positive impact on achieving our goals.
9. What are your career goals for your future?
My goals involve enhancing my knowledge by further education on fashion business and marketing. I plan on growing with the company where I can continue to learn, take on additional responsibilities, and contribute as much of value as I can.