Tag: Colombo Fashion Week

Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly in Colombo – CFW 2012

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CFW2012
By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

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Shop, Sup, and Spa Stylishly in Colombo

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CFW2012

By Malayna Dawn, Compere and Communications Consultant to Colombo Fashion Week since 2008

If you’re coming to Sri Lanka to be part of Colombo Fashion Week, you’ll want to make sure your entire trip is one of style and beauty. Luckily, that won’t be too difficult to do in the vibrant, diverse city of Colombo!  Let me tell you about some of the best places to be and sights to see. 

The host hotel is The Hilton Colombo Hotel once again, overlooking the Indian Ocean and Beira Lake. While you may be tempted not to leave the hotel grounds, I say you must. Within walking distance you can use the hotel’s direct access to the World Trade Center and then wander out the front entrance of either building to be introduced to the FORT District where modern day business takes place amidst old world architecture.

Millersphoto credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Millers.jpg

Before tasting the modern shops of Colombo, you might want to take a morning three-wheeler ride ‘round the clock tower to visit the nearby PETTAH.

Here you'll go back in time to when narrow roads filled with hand-cart traffic were enough to keep the tiny shops busy with the hustle and bustle of enterprise.

Dutch names and buildings are juxtaposed with candy striped mosques and colorful Hindu kovils. It’s not just a shopping trip…it’s an adventure!

You’ll probably want air-conditioned comfort in the afternoon, so tell the tuk-tuk driver to take you to these…

Stylish Shopping Musts:

THE DUTCH HOSPITALFacing the World Trade Center just next to the Hilton, is the newly renovated former Dutch Hospital. The beautiful old buildings are alive again with shopping, food and nightlife! You'll find that many of our CFW sponsors and partners are represented here, too.

ODEL – Near Town Hall, it’s a lovely and lively place for fashion, fun gifts and food. Their departments include a bookshop (my novel is available there!), home décor, jewelry, and makeup and perfume, and now you can even get a massage at Footrub before heading to their outdoor food court. They also feature a section with locally-made items to take the feel of Sri Lanka with you wherever you go.

PARADISE ROAD has locations all around Colombo (and the island), each with it’s own distinct feel.

  • PARADISE ROAD PROMENADE, near Town Hall is in a large, lovely, converted colonial house and offers a great selection of stylish souvenirs and gifts, as well as home décor. You’ll want to linger and explore every corner.
  • PARADISE ROAD STUDIO on Alfred House Gardens, off of Duplication Road – is a place where I’ve often thought of hiding until all the employees to go home, so I could live there for the night. Beautiful music and luxury surround you as you search for just the right addition to your home.
  • PARADISE ROAD GALLERIES – Just around the corner from Studio, you’ll find the Gallery and Gallery Café. This complex was once the office of internationally renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa, and is therefore a work of art in itself, with a variety of artists whose work adorns the space. Combined with beautifully delicious food, drinks and decadent desserts, you will want to keep coming back for more sensory delights.
  • BAREFOOTwhere colorful handloom cloth is the main attraction. The fact that their products promote the work of local craftspeople makes them even more fabulous as souvenirs and fashion statements. Spend some time perusing books, works of art, and then sit a while at their outdoor café.
  • CRESCAT BOULEVARD is a shopping mall located next to the Cinnamon Grand Hotel on the Galle Road where three levels of shops, services and restaurants are all in one upscale location. Books, videos, music, perfume, jewelry, accessories, shoes, clothing, massages, and food. What more could you want?

Stylish Supping:

Dutch HospitalHarpo's, The Ministry of Crab and the Brewery by O can be found here, as well as a restaurant from Sri Lankan Airlines catering! 

Paradise Road – To leave Colombo without eating at either of Paradise Road’s restaurant locations would be a crime. Their delectable fare features fusion food and a twist on Sri Lankan favorites. The atmosphere adds to the feast of the senses, topped of by the best desserts on the island, bar none. Both offer a bit of Sri Lankan history too, so be sure to ask, and indulge your mind as well as your senses.

  • The Gallery CaféWith its eclectic musical selections and artwork you might forget you’ve just entered a café, restaurant and bar. In fact, it was rated one of Asia’s Top 10 Lounge Bars in 2007. So it shouldn’t be surprising that you are joining the ranks of Sting, Kenzo, and Donna Karan, among many others, as you walk through the gates to be immersed in tantalizing beauty for all of your senses.
  • Tintagel is a unique private hotel, and like King Arthur’s castle in Cornwall for which it is named, it instantly offers a royal welcome. It even offers a connection to some of Sri Lanka’s most illustrious names– the Bandaranaike family—who made it their home, are best known for having produced three of the country's leaders. Now this home-turned-private-hotel can be yours for the span of a meal…or for several days. No matter how much time you spend there, you can be certain you’ll leave feeling thoroughly enchanted.

The Mango Tree – Where Flower Road and Dharmapala Mawatha meet is a hidden oasis of delectable Indian cuisine. Be adventurous and try everything. You won’t be disappointed, and you’ll leave feeling full…and satisfied!

Raja Bojun – For authentic Sri Lankan food with an unobstructed view of the sea while in air-conditioned comfort, Raja Bojun on the Galle Road is the place. Decorated in local style with coconut monkeys peering at you from palm trees and thatched roofs covering the buffet, you can enjoy the best of the traditional and the modern. Don’t forget to pat the pachyderm on the way out!

Cricket Club Café – When you’re in the mood for something more Westernized, or a beer and some tasty pub food, Cricket Club Café is the place. Decorated with cricket memorabilia from around the world with matches playing perpetually on the TV screens, its menu also pays homage to the sport’s best known and loved players. But even if you know nothing about Cricket, (like me) the colonial atmosphere and food are worth the visit.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – Yes, the international chain is here in Sri Lanka! This is one of the nicest I've seen–lion head fountains and coi ponds direct you to the entrance, where you order your beverage of choice. Snacks and meals are also available to be enjoyed out on the patio, in the main room, or in a big comfy leather chair or couch upstairs.

A Stylish Spa Treamtent …or quick massage:

Angsana Spa – Next to Cinnamon Grand Hotel and Crescat Shopping Center you’ll find a day spa to wash away the stresses of sightseeing, shopping and the demands of fashion.

Waters Edge Spa – to enjoy a sense of space, take a drive out to where the new Parliament Building sits in the middle of a lake and then to The Waters Edge resort. Their spa overlooks the golf-course-turned-garden and offers a lovely atmosphere and wonderful treatments.

Footrub – With locations all around Colombo, where some of the most tired of feet are to be found, (Crescat, Odel, the Airport) take a few minutes to re-fluff those flattened soles and perhaps also rejuvenate your soul. Despite the name, they also offer head, neck, shoulder and back massages, and Scholl products to make your next steps more comfortable.

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Colombo Fashion Week, Triumphant!

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After the Tamil Tigers tried to crash our party with their very rude air raid, it wasn’t just the Sri Lankans who were resilient—Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis all bonded with Sri Lankans and representatives from a variety of nations in the hope for PEACE.

Just like the irritation of an oyster becomes a pearl, the interruption of Colombo Fashion Week ’09 only made everyone feel more strongly and celebrate more emphatically.

Bibi Russell, whose show was meant to be the finale on the previous night, started the show with her collection called “Design for Life”. What a celebration!  With bright colors and dancing models all exuding life and the pure joy of being—including a few in red with hand woven red AIDS awareness ribbons. 

BibiRussellsAidsRibbons

Of course, all of her designs are handwoven and handmade, using natural materials sourced in her home country of Bangladesh, where her goal of Fashion for Development continues to inspire me, years after I learned about her while working for Young Asia Television.  P2220015And this year, I got to work closely with her and see how much she truly embodies her ideals. When she had a chance to speak after her show, she spoke only of positive concepts and working together for the good of all.

The next collection to continue the previous night’s interrupted show was “Spiritual” by Shobhaa De.  Beautiful music shifted the mood to a magically meditative one, with a voice over which I suspect was Shobhaa De herself, reading from one of her novels. Lotus flowers, candles, all complementing the simple and elegant clothing also made from natural materials. She took the stage afterwards and also spoke of resilience and strength, peace and hope.

The rest of the night continued the celebration at such a pitch, a second intermission had to be added. The music was rockin’ and kept the tempo moving, (well done Aviva Bidapa!), the designs impressed and the crowd, at full capacity from two nights worth of audiences coming together, reveled in it all.    

If terror was what the air raid was meant to evoke, they failed miserably. They seem to have ended up inspiring and bringing people together instead. Which is why Colombo Fashion Week 2009 ended TRIUMPHANTLY!

Colombo Fashion Week, Interrupted

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Feb 21st, 2009

Last night, I was the compere/announcer for Colombo Fashion Week and thankfully, my hubby, was there too. There was a blackout, so I made a mic-free announcement for everyone to stay calm and stay in their seats. I had no idea it was a response to an air raid.

As you may know, the LTTE, also known as Tamil Tigers, smuggled in pieces of small, light aircraft and then built a small air force of a handful of 2-seater planes.

The lights came back on and I continued, as directed, to get on with the show, blissfully unaware of any threat. I even kept on reading my script when I heard what sounded like people banging on the wall behind me, sticking tight to my "show must go on" sensibilities. At the sight of tracer bullets, I knew that sound was something far more serious.
 
Then the director told me to announce the show would continue tomorrow and tell everyone to calmly move away from the huge plate glass windows that formed the entire West wall of the penthouse ballroom. No one even knew where the emergency exits were, so they all rushed to the elevators, which of course weren't working.

My husband, who knew ahead of time what was happening and had been hovering nearby, very calmly told me it was time to go, and when I said "I have to get my stuff" he explained to me, still calmly, "you need to get away from the windows, because they could fire through them. Get only what you need and come this way." I did and he grabbed my hand and held it tightly as we moved through the crowd to find our friends. He never let go of me until we were safe.

I realized I had left my cell phone, so when it was quiet, we went back to the sound stage-booth-thing and he helped me gather everything else. The emergency exits were dangerously close to the plate glass windows that formed the entire South wall of the ballroom, and also overlooked the Army Base, so he wanted to wait until things quieted down before we took the stairs. We sat waiting in a secure corner.

I had brought a flashlight because they hadn't provided me with any light the night before, and it was odd to read a script by the light of the DJ's laptop. And thank God! I grabbed it and we made our way down the unlit 8 – 10 flights of stairs that may have never been swept, amidst kicked off ladies footwear, with my friend's Dad in tow. He was on his cell phone trying to get through to the rest of his family, but was only receiving calls from his driver who was on vacation in another part of the island, asking if they were all okay.

We found our friends in a covered parking area, and then we began to relax and make jokes. Once we were down among our friends, the info started coming on cell phones. I don't know if you've seen it in the news by now, but the crash I heard was a small plane crashing into our IRS building, which is next to an Air Force Base, less than half a mile away. The anti-aircraft fire was happening all around us, and it seems it actually hit the aircraft, forcing it to crash before reaching its target. You can imagine the gleeful jokes about the destroyed IRS files.

The hotel made an announcement that were given the all clear to turn on the lights and air conditioning, but that we couldn't leave the grounds yet. They played music, served food and drinks, and we all relaxed into the return to normalcy. Our international designer guests from Dubai, Bangladesh, and Pakistan were all unshaken. When they announced that it was safe to leave, a group of white boys– a sports team from England or Australia–were all packed and waiting for a taxi in the lobby. They seemed amazed that the rest of us were all back to business as usual. It's just what I heard the head of British Council saying on the phone to someone "Sri Lankans are incredibly resilient".

I was thinking about the little decisions I made when getting ready that afternoon. I was already constantly invoking Divine Order, because I was nervous, so the fact that I made these decisions shows me I was aligned well. Things like: to remember to take a flashlight, to wear a comfortable pair of shoes and pants instead of a dress or skirt, to not take my laptop, to bring a granola bar or two because the intermission snack trays never made it our way the night before.

I was very grateful for all of those things in the midst of it all. And I was so happy with my choice of hubby. He took care of me, and then helped our friend’s dad make sure his family weren't still up there before we had him come down with us. Once we were downstairs safely, he located all of our friends and kept them in sight.
 
As far as I know, only one person died in the attacks, and the 2 planes were shot down. They missed their targets and caused only a bit of ruckus. Inside the hotel, I didn't see any pushing or hysterics, and the hotel staff were on top of it. The war seems to be almost over, and this was a desperate, last ditch effort to terrorize. I don't feel particularly terrorized actually. I just remembered that while I still had the mic, and it was on, I told everyone to stay calm and hold thoughts of peace in their minds. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for that, now that I remember it!

So there you have it.
🙂

Even Fashion Needs Words!

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CMBpageThis year I'm even more involved with the Colombo Fashion Week.

Last year I was a script consultant and compère (a fancy word for MC–mistress of ceremonies!) and this year I'm involved in the website as well.

Check out this page, which promotes Colombo for those visiting just for fashion week. There are actually three (3) pages with my personal choices to "Shop, Sup and Spa Stylishly" while in Colombo.

I originally had called myself the "Consulting Wordsmith", because it seems more appropriate, but "Communications Consultant" sounds more like a real job. Check out the full Colombo Fashion Week website too, for info on the designers from Sri Lanka and abroad who will be participating, as well as images from last year's amazing shows. It's gonna be so cool!