Mercedes-Benz invited designer Amesh Wijesekera from Sri Lanka to present his autumn/winter 2019 collection as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. The show was part of the Mercedes-Benz International Designer Exchange Program, celebrating its tenth anniversary. Bettina Haussmann, Head of Branded Entertainment at Mercedes-Benz, then opened the anniversary exhibition on the ewerk’s forecourt and announced the new name for the scheme: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents.
For his autumn/winter 2019 collection, Amesh Wijesekera drew inspiration from his Sri Lankan roots and his life between the European megacity of London and the island in the Indian Ocean. The result is a blend of high-tech aesthetics and traditional craftsmanship. Skilled weavers and hand-knitters use fabrics displaying richness of detail and elaborate surface structures to bring the psychedelic energy and mythical nature surrounding Sri Lanka to life. Thick knits and patterned fabrics in vibrant colours such as red, magenta, orange, yellow, lime green and azure complemented by black and white dominate the voluminous silhouettes. Styled with lace-ups sneakers or boots and antique Sri Lankan jewellery, the unisex collection interweaves different worlds to create a harmonious and at the same time eclectic look.
“Ten Years of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents” exhibition
After the fashion show, Bettina Haussmann, Head of Branded Entertainment at Mercedes-Benz, welcomed visitors to the exhibition marking the tenth anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz junior development scheme in the Pavilion on the ewerk’s forecourt.During the event, she announced that the established program was changing its name from “International Designer Exchange Program” to “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents”.
“Amesh Wijesekera’s show has given us another chance to experience the great potential and creativity of up-and-coming designers from around the world in a live setting. We initiated the International Designer Exchange Program ten years ago to help these young fashion designers make inroads into the international markets,” says Bettina Haussmann. “Back then, we became aware that appearing on an international platform is an important career step and at the same time a tough challenge, even for designers who are successful in their home countries. This is where we started, using our network that has grown over the years, thanks to our involvement in fashion, to secure promising talents a place on the global show calendars, and thus open doors for them. They get the opportunity to present their collections to an international audience outside of their home markets. Our support for designers has continued to grow and has become more diverse ever since. Now, rather than being purely an exchange scheme, it also includes other initiatives. We therefore decided to give our baby a new name in its tenth-anniversary year: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talents.”
The program has supported more than 90 designers since its launch in 2009. The exhibition at MBFW in Berlin includes selected creations by Julia Seemann, Steven Tai and Wataru Tominaga, all previous alumin of the IDEP scheme. Julia Seemann from Switzerland was a guest in Berlin two years ago; showing her autumn/winter 2017 collection at the Berlin Fashion Week (“BERLINER MODE SALON”). Steven Tai from China was the first designer to present his collection as part of the cooperation with the International Festival for Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories in Hyères. He won the Chloé Prize there in April 2012 and appeared at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin a few weeks later. Wataru Tominaga from Japan came to Berlin in July 2016 as the winner of the Grand Prix du Jury Première Vision at the Hyères Festival. A creation from the German label Opaak by Agathe D. Muffert is also on display. The designer represents the newly established German Fashion Designers Federation e.V., which Mercedes-Benz has supported as a founding member since December 2018.