By Roshannah Bagley
AUCKLAND, New Zealand: Sri Lankan born Nadeesha Godamunne has emerged as one of New Zealand’s most successful fashion graduates in recent years. Upon graduating in 2008, her final year collection “Trompe L’oeil” proved a huge success, so much so that in March 2009, Godamunne won the highly desirable Mittelmoda prize at the ID Dunedin Emerging Designer Awards. This partnership between “Mittelmoda and ID Dunedin Fashion Week, is dedicated to both emerging students and top fashion designers from Oceania” providing the winner immediate entry into one of the world’s most prestigious fashion competitions. Godamunne then went on to triumph at the Style Pasifika Fashion Awards (New Zealand’s most prominent fashion competition), not only scooping the prize for ‘Best Three Piece Collection’, but also taking home the Grand Supreme Award for ‘Best Collection’. After dabbling in fashion design, Godamunne completed her Honours qualification last November specializing in fashion illustration. FAULT catches up with the Kiwi sensation to discuss art and what the future holds.
FAULT: What was your inspiration for your graduate collection titled “Trompe L’oeil”?
Nadeesha: “Trompe L’oeil” was inspired by Cubism. I was intrigued by the concept of making a 2D surface appear 3D, therefore decided to explore the concept of layering through print; what appeared to be layered garments were in fact shift dresses that featured digital prints – from AUT’s Textile Design Laboratory (TDL) – of garments. These prints were illustrations I myself drew. The process involved painting on A3 card, scanning, and subsequently Photoshoping the images. The intention was to create a directional range that challenged aesthetic and the way in which we perceived clothing.
FAULT: Which fashion designers do you find influential?
Nadeesha: John Galliano, Hussein Chalayan, Jean Paul Gaultier, Issey Miyake, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld and Yohji Yamamoto.
FAULT: Last November you completed your Honours certificate specializing in fashion illustration. Which artists or fashion illustrators have inspired your approach?
Nadeesha: Egon Schiele has been the most influential practitioner in my practice. He was a significant Austrian figurative painter in the early 20th century. I appreciated his experimentation with twisted body shapes, dynamic line, exaggerated proportion, and awkward models. The idiosyncratic nature of his paintings sparked a curiosity as to how it could be translated to fit within the parameters of fashion. His style has therefore been an integral element in the illustrative style I have developed.
FAULT: What was it that sparked your fascination with illustration?
Nadeesha: I have always had a passion for drawing, even as a child. Most of my designs are inspired by artists, or art movements, much like my final collection “Trompe L’oeil”, so my designs have a strong art aesthetic. Utilizing illustration in my final collection not only allowed me to fuse my passion for fashion and drawing, but also sparked the urge to further refine my drawing style. The Honours year in which I specialized in fashion illustration has been a great opportunity to do what I love everyday. It wasn’t until recently however, that I realized this hobby could potentially be a profession.
FAULT: How has winning the prestigious Mittelmoda prize at the ID Dunedin Emerging Awards helped your career?
Nadeesha: It has definitely provided me with a platform and the recognition within the industry, and in the fashion industry, this is vital. More importantly it has given me the confidence to head out into the workforce. The experience to travel to Italy and showcase “Trompe L’oeil” was unforgettable. It has encouraged me and given me the drive to keep on pursuing my passions.
FAULT: Do you feel there is enough support for future fashion illustrators in New Zealand?
Nadeesha: Fashion illustration is a medium not yet established or readily available in New Zealand. I presume this is because New Zealand’s fashion industry is comparatively younger than those overseas, thereby lack the tradition and history of great fashion illustrators. Support therefore is lacking. Designers and editors here are not overly exposed to the fashion illustration medium, and it can easily be disregarded. Illustrators like myself must therefore offer their services, encouraging clients to take risks, whilst demonstrating that hand representations can compete alongside photography. This is a fundamental aspect that could aid in illustration’s resurgence, but one that is lacking. I believe it will be a challenge to create a niche market of clientele, but its a matter of doing your own thing and lobbying the media. Although fashion illustration is a large gap in the New Zealand market, I strongly believe there is a place for it, due to the positive response I received from practitioners in the field.
FAULT: What are you working on at the moment?
Nadeesha: Currently I am doing a lot of collaborative work with designers and editors, as well as drawing for film. I am also considering doing my masters in fashion illustration to further develop my style, and to continue to promote illustration as a viable medium of communication.