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Leela de Mel- a woman of high attainment and humility

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By Zanita Careem

When I heard the news of Dr. Leela de Mel’s demise in Perth Australia many thoughts and memories passed my mind. We first met each other when I entered Ramanathan Hall, at the Peradeniya Campus, as a fresher. Leela was then a third-year Political Science Honours student at the time I entered the campus as a fresher.

The last time I met her was a few years back when she was here for her niece’s wedding. I invited her for a cup of coffee at the Taj Samudra Hotel, when unforgettable memories of the good times replayed in my mind. Her mischievous laugh and anecdotes are now just happy memories.

These nostalgic thoughts of the university life we shared against the picturesque setting at the Peradeniya University speak volumes for our happy times together. Our senior lecturer Dr K. H. Jayasinghe, Head of the Department of Political Science and later President of the Peradeniya Campus, who was also our mentor, thought very highly of Leela.

Leela, Indra Panditharatne who was also offering political science and I were named the ‘three musketeers’ by the then warden Mrs. Cooke, a strict disciplinarian with a tough exterior.

Leela, the daughter of Rear Admiral Royce de Mel and one time Head Girl of St. Bridget’s Convent was bullying or ‘ragging’ the freshers. However, unlike today, ragging then was a form of familiarization between the seniors and the freshers. Leela’s way of ragging, unlike now, was innocent and without malice. She would ask the freshers to wear the slippers on the wrong foot, switch off the light in the room plunging the place in darkness and such. After the two weeks of ragging she always showed her concern, warmth and took all the freshers under her wing. Almost every adventure with Leela, be it visiting friends, dinner parties, trips to Sigiriya, holidaying with her two older sisters in Tangalle and visits to tea estates, meant fun. Leela loved Saraschandra’s drama and during the week for dramas at the famous Peradeniya ‘Wala’we would stand in long queues to get our tickets and had So much funfighting for seats under the moonlight.

Not only was she full of humour and repartee, Leela also had a large heart. She would help students at a time of need. Two incidents in particular come to my mind. She would often take Indra and I to afternoon tea at Elephant House in Kandy. The waiters looked forward to her visits as she always tipped them very generously. Leela also took time off her busy teaching schedule at Peradeniya to teach English to primary school students in a village called Barigama near Nugawela once a week. Often Indra and I would accompany her on this journey. The smiles on young students’ faces when they saw her said it all.

Her close friend, the amiable undergrad reading for a degree in Sociology, Padmini Bandaranaike enjoyed Leela’s company and sometimes we would end up listening to Leela’s anecdotes until the wee hours of the morning. She was well versed in world affairs and international relations and we would often have hot debates and at times indulge in social gossip too.

Leela’s academic achievements and accomplishments were many. An avid reader and a traveller, her achievements at school and university earned many accolades. But none of that got into her head. She was immune to false airs and always chose a lifestyle of simplicity.

After Leela completed her BA in Political Science, she was appointed as an Asst. Lecturer at the Peradeniya’s Department of Political Science. She went to Australia National University in Canberra on a Ford Foundation scholarship, and completed her Master’s degree in International Relations and later read for a doctorate in the School of Social Inquiry at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. She was an outstanding lecturer, who was not only erudite but caring, independent and unbowing.

After we graduated and were on the staff of the university Leela, Padmini, Indra and I shared an apartment at Ramanthan Hall. It was such a fun time in our young lives. Leela was an excellent cook and she wanted to make sure that her three friends would be able to put some palatable dishes on the table! She drew up an afternoon tea roster and once a week one of us, under her guidance, had to cook a suitable dish. She would then comment on it and most often I was never up to her high standards.

Dr Jayasinghe would occasionally invite a group of Political Science Honours students to his home for dinner. This was a much looked forward to event as Dr Jayasinghe would always say he made the ‘best chicken curry this side of the Suez’! Leela however, never agreed with that.

The two lecturers in Political Science, KC Perera and Ranjith Amarasinghe who had recently returned to the university after completing postgraduate studies in the UK. Leela made sure that they were welcomed back into the Political Science family. Birthdays were a case in point and Leela made sure they were celebrated in style.

Indra’s father was based in Nuwara Eliya, so taking advantage of this we did a trip to Nuwara Eliya with KC as his brother was working there too. The jokes and pranks Leela played on them are still very vivid in my memory.

This is seen as a common thread that runs through all tributes paid to her. She had a passion for working for the underprivileged and was always warm, helpful, refined and dignified. She touched the lives of many with her kindness, empathy, generosity and her readiness to help.

Now as I look back on her loss I notice that she was a high achiever which was reflected in many messages of condolence. All of them spoke of her great endurance, humility, grace, cheer and her positive attitude and achievements.

Our conversations in person, on rare occasions we met in Sri Lanka were mostly on family affairs. Her sparkling eyes and vibrant personality were her highlights. A Parliamentary tribute made by Dr. Anne Aly for Cowan (WA) aptly sums up Leela’s contribution to Social Justice and Multicultural community work. Her Alma Mater, St. Bridget’s Convent’s Old Girl Association also made a fitting tribute to her.

Her boundless energy, loyalty, generosity and capacity for fun and mischief made the lives of her husband Michael and son Janek, friends and colleagues happy. Her light hearted outlook was her forte. My thoughts are with her two loving sisters Nimmi (Loku), Priyani (Podi), and brother Manil, sister-in-law Radha, nieces and nephews whom she adored and who will dearly miss Leela.

Leela, I salute you not only your illustrious career, but also your innate goodness. You are gone yet never forgotten.



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Life style

The return of the mighty mini

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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)

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Why is jewellry important in fashion?

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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.

Sparks conversations

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:

Selecting jewellery

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

simple jewellery

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

earrings

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.

– ToI

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From runways to red carpets, clogs are making a major comeback

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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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