by Zanita Careem
An epitome of courage and wisdom, she is one of the top entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka, founder of Sri Lanka’s most stylish department where she served as Managing Director. Otara Gunawardena is truly inspirational.
She has earned many awards and notched several achievements. She was awarded the best female entrepreneur award at the Seventh US Stevie awards for Women in Business and 2018 Women of the Year Award by Women in Management (WIM).
Embark has become a popular brand. How do you account for it, its beginnings and its progress?
“Back in 2007, pedigreed dogs were popularly in demand but there were countless street dogs who needed care and love. Many of them were abused and unwanted. I wanted to change their circumstance and initiated Embark with the dream of providing a better life for our Sri Lanka’s street dogs and to give them the love, respect and the home they deserve.
“The brand was set up so that the profits would support the work we do with street dogs. It was also meant to help people to live a lifestyle supporting the cause and being ambassadors for the dogs with the clothing they wear. Most of the T- shirts have slogans conveying a positive message about street dogs in a fun way and many items became popular fashion statements.”
Explain the concept behind embark and the advocacy campaign for the welfare of homeless dogs?
“The concept was to make the street dog fashionable to own. And we have succeeded in doing so as more than 6,000 street pups have been re-homed, more than 60,000 vaccinated and sterilized throughout the island. Close to 35,000 plus street dogs have been rescued and treated over the last 15 years. Many people also now do their own rescues and adoptions.
“Embark mainly provides free medical treatment for sick and injured street dogs, the majority without owners. We also help find homes for pups who are abandoned on the streets. Besides the direct rescues we do there is also a foster network who rescues these pups, looks after them temporarily whilst we provide the required medical care – vaccinations, de-worming etc. and bring them to our monthly adoption programs where they find forever homes. We carried out many sterilization programs throughout the country and ensure there is population control within the street dog population in Sri Lanka. We also have a free medical clinic weekly at our head office in Colombo where we provide vaccinations, treatments and sterilizations for street/ adopted dogs.
What is your main focus in initiating this project?
“As explained previously, the main reason behind Embark is to give our Sri Lankan street dogs the love, respect and most of all the home that they deserve.”
Don’t you ever find the work you’re doing depressing and do you find any changes for the better?
“Sadly, the situation is quite dire in Sri Lanka but it has definitely improved from the past. There is now a no kill policy and sometimes there are programs of vaccination and sterilization implemented but unfortunately not done well. There is a lot more awareness and concern with people now against cruelty and also many more helping stray animals than before. However, there is still a lot of cruelty to elephants, an increase in terrible pet shops which are filled with suffering animals, cruel pedigree breeding, inhuman zoos, animals suffering in captivity etc.
“Lack of laws is a big issue too, something that has not changed despite many governments that have come and gone. It can be quite depressing to be aware of the cruelty and see it daily in a country such as ours where the need for compassion is stressed. We just do what we can each day to make a positive difference in the current situation.”
What has been the highlight of setting up Embark?
“Well, there are many, but I can say it has been rewarding to see a paralysed dog walk again, a dog who was severely ill recover and a rescued pup finding their forever home and living the best possible life. These may seem small achievements but they are close to my heart and I am glad I am able to help these amazing beings recover and live a good life. “
What are your programs to improve and protect animals and the environment in Sri Lanka?
“Embark under, Otara Foundation has been working on improving the lives of street dogs throughout the country, conducting rescue and re-homing initiatives whilst managing the canine population and preventing rabies through sterilization and vaccination programs across the country. Most of the rescues and treating of the injured are focused in the Western Province, but we do try our best to reach as best as we can in other areas.
“Embark has been at the forefront influencing policy in relation to animals and playing a vital role in making a significant change in the lives of animals and people alike.
“The Otara Foundation works with its accredited partners to promote large and medium-scale reforestation projects in the country. In addition, because it is the Foundation’s mandate that all life matters and every little effort is a step in the right direction, we support and promote smaller individual initiatives in reforestation and replanting. I personally advocate a better life for animals, speak out on behalf of the animals and participate in awareness.”
“I can only look at the change I have been able to make for animals and the environment and be grateful for what’s been achieved. The drawbacks are knowing how much more we need to do and can be done if there was conscious caring leadership as a lot of bigger change has to be initiated from the top.”
How does it feel being a female entrepreneur?
“It has been a challenging yet enjoyable journey. I am happy to have been able to change the direction of retail and fashion in Sri Lanka and to give a lot more women hope to follow their dreams and be who they want to be.”
The return of the mighty mini
The mini-dress has a new lease of life – but why now?
It’s an old cliché that when the stock market goes up, so do hemlines. So why, given 2019’s tempestuous social, political and economic climate, are we in the throes of a miniskirt revival?
With skirts being styled with everything from neat tweed jackets to oversized skater hoodies, it is a distinct change in pace for the hard-edged androgyny of recent years, says Celenie Seidel, senior womenswear editor at luxury-fashion platform Farfetch: “Women are revisiting a more exuberant, playful and optimistic way of dressing again, and the miniskirt revival is a big part of that.”
Beyond the catwalks, UK chain Marks & Spencer reported that it sold 300,000 miniskirts over the winter – in no small part due to brand ambassador and TV presenter Holly Willoughby’s predilection for minis. The miniskirt is the “dominant skirt silhouette” sold by online retailers, and currently accounting for 45% of skirt sales in the UK, says Kalya Marci, market analyst at retail consultancy Edited. Marci adds that searches for miniskirts have increased more than 50% in the past three months compared with the same period last year.
An understanding of the miniskirt’s place in fashion history gives some context to its surge in popularity today. The social and cultural impact of the mini forms a major theme in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Mary Quant retrospective, which runs until 16 February 2020.
We have reached the point where our hemlines are free to be as macro or micro as they please
Opinions differ on who invented the abbreviated garment – Cristóbal Balenciaga, Mary Quant and André Courrèges have all been credited. What is undeniable is that the miniskirt’s launch-pad was 1960s Swinging London, and it was local designer Quant who took the garment beyond the rarefied world of high fashion.
“The miniskirt came to symbolise freedom, empowerment and an increased confidence for the younger generation, who refused to conform and follow the stifling rules of their mother’s generation,” V&A curator Stephanie Wood tells BBC Designed. It also came to embody the broader social and cultural freedoms being fought for and gradually experienced by many women during the 1960s, she adds, “as more women entered the workforce, gaining their own independent wealth, and women began to gain more autonomy over their own bodies with the introduction of the contraceptive pill.”
Over the decades, the miniskirt has been subject to criticism by some feminist campaigners, and associated with an over-sexualised female stereotype. The current revival counters the recent gravitation towards more “modest” dressing, which has favoured longer lengths and looser silhouettes. The simple explanation is the cyclical nature of fashion trends: as midi and maxi lengths hit the mainstream, early adopters seek out something new.
Symbol of defiance
Meanwhile in 2019, we have reached the point where our hemlines are free to be as macro or micro as they please – but in the #MeToo era, when women’s bodies are increasingly politicised, the miniskirt is once again a symbol of defiance. “Fashion has a long history of representing political and social ideas, specifically because fashion is a powerful and very visible form of communication”, says Wood. “Perhaps the renaissance of the miniskirt can be linked with women feeling the need to reclaim their own bodies”.
While the miniskirts of the 1960s were a defining part of social shifts triggered by the so-called teenage “youthquake”, in 2019 it is notable that the trend has no upper-age limit. The Instagram feeds of Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner and Rihanna are peppered with miniskirts, but the garment is also favoured by high-profile women in their 40s and beyond, such as Kate Moss, Chloë Sevigny, the Spice Girl Emma Bunton and Quant herself.
‘Sexy’, skin-baring items like the miniskirt have found new context – Alice Gividen
When it comes to ageism, fashion’s tectonic plates are shifting: Christy Turlington, 50, closed the show for Marc Jacobs at his New York Fashion Week show in February; Patti Hansen, 63, was the star model at Michael Kors. Simone Rocha cast several 40-something women in her London show including 1980s favourite Jeny Howorth, and Marie Sophie Wilson. Yasmin Le Bon, 54, declared earlier this year that she wears miniskirts more in her 50s than she did in her 20s or 30s.
“There’s a new narrative building around traditional, feminine items,” agrees Alice Gividen, fashion and beauty editor at trend consultancy WGSN. “‘Sexy’, skin-baring items like the miniskirt have found new context in a time where we can celebrate femininity and sexuality, in line with ‘fourth-wave’ feminism, and with the goal of simply dressing up for ourselves.”
Mary Quant sponsored by King’s Road is at the V&A, London, until 16 February 2020 (BBC)
Why is jewellry important in fashion?
Jewellery has the ability to add beauty and style to you and whatever ensemble you are wearing. Whether it is costume jewellry or fine jewellery it is the wearer’s delight as it further highlights their personality with the look that it adds to your ensemble. You’re all dressed up and on your way out when you glance in the mirror and realize… something is missing. The outfit is flawless and the shoes are perfect, and then you spot it: A gorgeous bib necklace will make you look even better in that dress! Whether you’re on a date with someone sweet or dressing to impress a potential boss, you can use statement je ellery to transform your wardrobe.
“Jewellery has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique.” — Elizabeth Taylor
The human love affair with all things sparkly has a long history Jewellery has always made a fashion statement.
Some of the earliest statement jewellery was found in Egypt. Collar necklaces, dangling earrings, and thick, cylindrical rings were all prevalent in Egyptian jewellery boxes.
The Romans loved their jewels too, but they preferred rings. These rings were made with heavy stones for winter and lighter, more delicate materials for the summer. Regardless of composition, the important characteristic of Roman jewellery was history, not value. As is the case today, in ancient Rome, a bauble could be priced higher if it had an illustrious history behind it.
Coco Chanel began creating her own elaborate jewellery in the 1920s, using crystal or coloured glass in varying sizes as the Egyptians had. Coco is often credited with popularizing the concept of “costume jewellery,” creating seasonal items that mixed real and imitation stones and pearls.
Vivenne Becker, an antique jewellery veteran, talks about “The Cocktail Style” in her book, Fabulous Costume Jewellery: History of Fantasy and Fashion in Jewels. Popular during the ’30s and ’40s, this jewellery era was all about big, jewellered rings, multi-strand pearl necklaces, and extensive use of gilt metal and rose gold. She describes “cocktail jewellery” as “bubbly and extravagant, like the alcoholic concoctions from which it took its name. It was assertive, bossy, jewellery to show off in.”
While making a statement in the ’50s meant throwing on a charm bracelet, jewellery in the ’60s had a bit more punch. Designer Paco Rabanne fully embraced statement jewellery, experimenting with cheap materials like plastic and PVC and using bright colours. He said, “I made jewellery for the alternative side of women’s personality, for their madness.”
It’s a crime to talk about statement jewellery without discussing the woman whose accessories always have something to say: Madeleine Albright. In her book, she tells the stories behind some of her favourite pins. In one tale, she recalls the first pin she wore to send an intentional political message. The pin was a gold snake wrapped around a branch, which she wore after being referred to as an “unparalleled serpent” by the Iraqi press. Dr. Albright still enjoys collecting pins, though she mentions she receives many as gifts
Modern day statement jewellery is big, bold, and full of many elements from previous decades. Today, we love pieces that incorporate the glitz and glam of the ’30s and ’40s, and the colours and materials of the ’60s. Most of all, we love statement jewellery’s eternal ability to make heads turn.
Fashion trends constantly evolve, but jewellery steadfastly remains an accessory that women turn to. Nothing can make an ensemble shine quite like jewellery can. It also makes the perfect statement for self-expression.
Jewellery changes the way your outfit ‘works’. Whether you wear an extravagant ring, or a simple necklace, a statement bracelet or subtle stud earrings, your choice of jewellery has the power to elevate your look to a whole new concept. In fact, fashion designers and jewellers have long since been working together to create various styles. Also, gemstones are no longer simply embellishments – they are pieces of art. Jewellery is definitely a big part of fashion. Here are some reasons why:
New look every day
Love your white shirt and end up wearing it too often? That’s ok! Make it look different each time with different jewellery! For a formal look, pair it with gold studs or drop earrings; for a Boho look throw on some chunky bangles and stack rings, or look casual and laid-back with tassel and pom pom earrings. You can also wear your pieces to match your mood.
Certain pieces are called conversation starters for a reason. Bold or quirky, intricate or chunky, such pieces of jewellery naturally draw attention and spark friendly discussions.
Accentuates your personality
Jewellery is a great way to express yourself, so select pieces that match your personal style and personality. It also allows your creativity and individualism to shine through and speak for themselves.
The biggest question probably is, how to choose jewellery that will complement your look, your mood and your personality. Also, how to style the pieces so they will enhance your wardrobe. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you dazzle!
Jewellery styling tips
. Define the focus of your look: jewellery or clothing?
When you start dressing, decide on this first. A simple outfit can be transformed into something spectacular with the right jewellery, or a statement piece. If the focus is on your clothing and it is bold, then choose small, subtle pieces as highlights, such as the Bliss solo stone bracelet with a mother of pearl.
Layer and stack
Experiment with layering your necklaces and stacking your earrings, rings and bangles! Mixing different lengths, shapes, textures and colours and seeing what works is a lot of fun! Layering necklaces of differing lengths can bring focus to your face. You can also stack rings in different gemstone colours or combine ear cuffs with hoops for an interesting look. Mixing your jewellery on your wrist can create a friendly jangle as you move your arm.
Experiment with mixing metals
Wearing a silver necklace? You don’t have to pair it with other silver jewellery as a rule. Contrast your pendant colour with its chain, or stack rings with different metal or gemstone colours. Try the same with your bangles and bracelets. If it looks good and makes you feel confident, just go with it!
Don’t follow trends blindly
Evolve your own style. Whatever accessory you choose, own it, flaunt it, be confident wearing it. Pick jewellery that suits your style, looks good on you and complements your colouring, and mostly, your personality.
Don’t overdo it
When you’re enthusiastic about jewellery, it’s easy to sometimes over-accessorise. So just watch out to make sure you’re not cluttering your look with excess. For instance, if you’re drawing attention to your neckline with a statement choker or layered necklace, don’t stack too many bracelets that compete for attention. Or, if you’re wearing bold pendant earrings, then a simple, matching necklace should be enough – or even no necklace.
How to match jewellery with your outfit
If you’ve ever been stuck wondering what jewellery to pair with which outfit, then this is for you! Just go with these handy hints:
Consider where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, when selecting your jewellery If you’re dressing up for work and will be using your keyboard most of the day, avoid jangling bangles and hanging bracelets. Wear the longer, dressier earrings for formal events and parties and the more flamboyant pieces for casual outings.
Choose jewellery that
complements your skin tone
Jewellery is a great way to highlight your skin tone. Warm skin tones go well with yellow so gold is a good choice. Silver and white gold illuminate natural tones.
Pair busy patterns with
You get a confused, gaudy look when you marry a busy print with loud, ornate jewellery.
Instead, consider simple, solid pieces.
Highlight your face with
If you want the spotlight on your face, then don a pair of statement earrings. Go for the flashy, glittering ones that make your eyes sparkle! Also, consider the shape of your face when choosing your earrings. For instance, studs and triangular earrings look best on an oval face.
From runways to red carpets, clogs are making a major comeback
In case you haven’t noticed, clogs are having a moment – and we’re here for it. These ’90s “it shoes” have been popping up everywhere, from runways (Alaïa, Givenchy and Gucci to name a few), to social media, and even on the red carpet (Justin Bieber wore the Balenciaga Hardcrocs to the Grammy’s.) Although they may seem like a relic of the past, the folkloric footwear have been reimagined time and again with modern twists. This time around, designers chose rubber materials, unconventional colours and cozy textures as some of the ways to update the traditional style.
Even if your aesthetic isn’t all about the ’90s, clogs make the perfect shoes for any occasion they’re stylish and comfortable enough to wear all day long and easy to slide on and off. But they also add an interesting element to jazz up your outfits as the new season starts.
Whether you choose to pair them with a flowery dress or a pair of oversized jeans, there’s something about the quirky slip-ons that people can’t get enough of.
Clogs have emerged as one of the top footwear choices for pandemic living. They function like a slipper (comfortable and easy to get into), but with elevated style (and height) — and soles sturdy enough to wear for hours.
Doctors and nurses rely on them for long shifts, as do chefs and anyone else who stands at work all day.
They look cool, giving off equal parts art teacher, with-it parent, and fashionable ceramicist. Clogs are popular from the stylish ones worn by famous people to the hippie-ish ones preferred by men.
If you’ve seen a celebrity in clogs, chances are those clogs were from No.6. It’s the brand worn by Claire Danes, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Maya Rudolph, who wore several pairs in her Amazon show Forever.
Although No.6 clogs are no longer trendy, they’re not passé either. The brand has become so ubiquitous they’re practically canonized. Its clogs come in a bunch of different styles, including sexy high heels, flat heels and come in different colours and patterns .– Hello
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