INTERVIEW Meet Model & Muse Maneesha
- The colors, the people, the smell, the atmosphere, the food gives me so much life and inspiration and it feeds my brain and my heart. Meet Sri Lanka born Maneesha, designer and campaign model for ENVELOPE1976XSLEEPERS.
Who? My name is Maneesha Perera Gallage
What? I'm currently studying Fashion Designing and I'm in my last year, and also I'm a part time model.
Where? I was born from Sri Lanka, now I live in Oslo, Norway.
Creative Director CELINE AAGAARD did an interview on set with Maneesha.
Tell us about your journey?
I was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka and lived there until I was 12 years old. In 2003 my mother came to Norway to do her higher studies and then me and my dad moved to Norway in December 2005 and then the family was united. For year and a half we lived in Stavanger and meanwhile I went to school to learn Norwegian and to continue my elementary studies. So after that we then moved to Oslo and I continued my studies. In high school I did Media and Communication, and I also did my Bachelor degree in Marketing and sales leadership in University. After my university studies I was applying for jobs and during this process I realized my passion, love and the interest I have for fashion and has always been in my heart and I came to a decision that I really wanted pursue my journey in fashion which made me want to learn more about it. Which then led me to study fashion designing here in Oslo, and as I'm writing this now I'm preparing my graduation collection for my last year in school. While I was studying fashion I also realized and was drawn to the modelling aspect of it and I have been lucky to have been a part of some modelling experiences which opened my heart to that as well.
Tell us shortly about how your career in fashion started?
Even in my young age I always had an eye for clothes and I remember whenever I went out with my family or for any other occations my favorite part was to plan a outfit and dressing up. To play with my moms make up and her clothes and even her shoes I was always interested to style myself in playful ways. I used to imitate my grandmom wearing saris/Kandyan (which is a traditional way of wearing the sari by Sri Lankan women) and her jewelry and in my mind I always wanted to look like her. So this love for clothes and jewelry that stayed in my heart in Sri Lanka came with me even after I moved to Norway, and I kept continuing this interest for clothes and style but improving and changing my style with time. So while all these years this passion for clothes and jewelry led me to want to study further so I can pursue my dream to become a fashion designer with more insight and a strong backbone to help me in understanding what fashion designing is and the techniques of it for me to move confidently in going after my dream.
Why fashion design? To me fashion isn't just the word fashion. As I also had the interest in studying fashion designing, like I said so I can have the strong backbone in going forward with my dream my whole idea has always been to uplift women. Clothes and style has always been my communication , so I want to give women this power and inspiration by my clothes and show them how much power and confident one can gain on just by wearing a garment and styling it the way she wants to! Clothes have more power than we think. It can talk to people, This is language in it self. And moving to Norway which was so unknown to me, Clothes became my way of presenting myself without being verbal. I could play with colors and show my personality. So this really gave me the push to become a fashion designer so I can give this magic power to any other women that wants to express herself freely the way she wishes to it.
Where do you find inspiration to get creative? I find inspiration in basically everything my eye captures. When I'm out I have a very observant eye which captures a lot and everything can be turned into style in my head.
Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Can you tell us how your background has inspired your design, and how to dress. Much of my inspiration derives from my lovely motherland Sri Lanka. The colors, the people, the smell, the atmosphere, the food gives me so much life and inspiration and it feeds my brain and my heart. The nature and the culture in Sri Lanka is so rich that I find so much inspiration which gives me ideas on how I want to design my clothes, my jewelry which is also how I style myself as well. Being born in Sri Lanka, that time women were always looked with very observant eyes. Women were told to look respectful and the society basically decided on how a woman should dress and be like. So at a young age I experienced this and felt a bit trapped and felt like women didn't have the freedom of expression whether it may be through fashion, or behavior. So exactly this made me want to be rebellious and gave me a motivation to not hold myself back. I wanted be free, and when I moved to Norway it felt a bit easier. I felt a certain type of freedom to dress as I pleased and this made me be more creative and be expressive through clothes and style. Fashion became my language and my way of breaking through rules and social norms. I bacame more bolder and confident in who I Am beacause I dressed the way I wanted to. And this boldness always comes out whenever I design my garments.
How did you dress when you where younger? I wore a lot of colorfull dresses and pants for casual wear as well as for special occasions. For religious ceremonies there is a special attire that, especially females should wear, so the dress so the covers your whole leg. As school children we should wear a uniform mainly in white color, which also came with a belt. I remember I styled my hair a lot with colorfull clips and ribbons , which is so dear to me that I still am obsessed and decorate myself with different types and colorfull ribbons.
What is your 10 key pieces in the wardrobe. Bralettes so I can wear on top of my blouses and tops etc. Jewelry which I wear mostly on my neck where I layer them a lot and also accessories such as earrings, necklaces, rings. Earrings that I wear sometimes which are hangmade by myself. Ribbons, to decorate myself and on my clothes, also as chokers around my neck. Jackets, which are mainly second hand and uncommon in style. Blouses, tops- with puffed sleeves which is vintage and in vibrant colors. Trousers and pants- I love trouses with prints and colors. Make up- mainly I love to do make up around my eyes with colorful eyeshadows and eyeliners so that my whole look gets a fun look to it. Shoes- My to go shoe that I'm obsessed with are my creepers which I found in Fretex. Handbags- I have these tiny totebags which I buy from vintage shops, and I have such precious handbags given to me by my mom, and a handbag from my boyfriend which he got to me from Mexico and I use this religiously these days.
What key items do you have in your all year round wardrobe? Jackets- Which are mainly from vintage shops. Blouses and cardigans, Jewelry and Shoes
Is there any item you think never will go out of fashion? I think it's jewelry! Because jewelry has a special place in especially in a womens wardrobe, and it's passed from generation to generations and it never go out of style because it has a precious meaning and a value behind it. Jewelry is timeless!
Do you remember your first vintage buy? I remember when I newly moved into Oslo I went shopping with my mom, and we went to Uff the second hand shop, and I got hooked on a cute handbag and a denim jacket Which I fell in love with.
Reuse of clothes is important to us, do you have any good advice for how to reuse clothes?At times I go through some of the clothes I have bought a long time ago or which I wore a lot but then lost interest in it, and then look at it and I style it in a different way than I did back then. My trick is to look through what you have regardless whether you like it or not to put in on your bed and add some accessories next to it, add a jacket, plan, some shoes so you style your whole look with a new perspective.Try to challenge yourself and look at the garments with a twist. Add some colorful jewelry, pin some broaches on to the blouse you think might look boring and give it some shine. I always cut the garments or redesign in other words here and there until I feel it got more personality so I give it fresh new look to it.
What do you do to have a greener lifestyle?I reuse my old garments. Most of my clothes are vintage and second hand. I give my used clothes to Fretex or Uff so someone else can have the joy of wearing it. Studying fashion designing and buying fabrics I often have a ton of leftover fabrics, So I always collect them and sew something new, or I collect them to stuff pillows.
Stronger together- what can we all do now? Talking about fashion, Always think twice before buying something of you really need it or not. Go for second hand, vintage items. Educate textile productions to go more environmental friendly and be more aware of our nature we are living in.Try to consider in buying products that do less harm to nature, and animals.
Do you remember your first flip flop memory? Yes, In Sri Lanka flip flop is our footwear specially at home. Because of the weather, and because it is comfortable. I remember a lot when at home and when we went to the beach I wore the flip flops, and I even remember it came in different vibrant colors, and even prints on it such as floral prints.
If we can travel this summer- where would you go?Definitely Sri Lanka. I miss my motherland, and ever since I came to Norway we traveled to Sri Lanka every second year, so I honestly miss being there and feeling the air on my body. This summer if we get to travel Sri Lanka is the first place I would very much love to go!
How would you style your pair of ENVELOPE1976XSLEEPERS ?I would style ENVELOPE1976XSLEEPERS, with the dress jacket in Beige which I got to wear from ENVELOPE1976 in the shoot with the black strap long dress with lots of jewelry and a orange colored ribbon around my neck as a chocker with my own made earrings, with my mexican small bag and to finish the look the black flip flops from SLEEPERS.
- In Sri Lanka flip flop is our footwear specially at home. Because of the weather, and because it is comfortable, say Maneesha.