Our new PR Rising Star for 2023 is Natharlea. This glamorous young lady was introduced to us in March 2022 and we've been in prep mode ever since awaiting the right time to launch.
She launched in store this last week and within 2 days sold her first 3 pieces. We think that might be a record!
Our PR Rising Star programme is a 3-month stint designed for select new brands who want to debut in retail. It is an opportunity for our community to experience and shop local talent and it's a platform for young brands to learn from and grow and it's no sure thing to the main rail, it takes commitment.
Natharlea says she's always had an inclination towards art and design and she always loved to draw. Her supportive mother enrolled her into the Academy of Design (AOD), and the rest is history, or is it? She's already earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in Design and is currently reading for her PhD in Design and Engineering. Our rich craft talent in Sri Lanka has inspired her specialisation in handloom, batik and the now popular craft we are seeing as a trend in young designers, knitwear.
"I wear many hats. Besides being a designer, I am also a fashion consultant and lecturer." Natharlea shares.
Natharlea enjoys showcasing her work on the ramp and presented her work in India in 2016, her debut in international waters. Since then, with AOD in Poland and even just a few weeks ago in Germany, for her work with the British Alpaca Company, for whom she consults.
"A fun fact, I've actually once made some outfits for Thailand's royal family ! " she tells us. Hey... we want to see photos!!
Natharlea is obsessed with Karl Lagerfeld's work and we are so happy we didn't know that until after she handed over the collection. The inspiration is there for sure, but the collection is her own, just like we like it.
Authenticity is always key when we select designers for this platform and curate for the store.
Natharlea has named her new collection "The Queens Gambit" for her debut in retail as our PR Rising Star this February. It is a collection she says is inspired by the fauna and flora of a tropical island, entirely hand crafted in Sri Lanka with a superior quality of materials including alpaca linen which was woven in the UK. "I am inspired by the artisans I work with. Each piece in my collection is woven with the threads of incredible handwork industries, that do not get due recognition in Sri Lanka. My pieces centre around handloom, batik, knitwear and embroidery from all over our island; from the Beeralu trade in Galle to the handloom trade in Udu Dumbara." Natharlea shares with pride.
"My goal is to revive the dying craft industries and to ensure that the earnings I make, trickle down to the communities I work with. I understand that earning forex is our biggest priority for Sri Lanka right now, and I am committed to make sure that the dollars I earn by exporting my work, makes it's way to hands of the artisans I work with."
We asked her how she felt about being a PR Rising Star. "This is in fact, an honour. As a designer, I really value the space PR has created in the market to celebrate art through fashion." she replied.
And what would be her favourite piece from the collection? "I love The Midnight Queen. Natharlea is for everyone, to feel beautiful and celebrated in, this piece was designed to be gender fluid like all my pieces".
Our PR favourite of the moment is the Day Light Shirt available in a variety of one-off styles with unique appliqué.
Check it all out and shop Natharlea in store and online !