Aldo’s timeless designs have bewitched many fashionistas and brides for decades. The famous designer who hails from the salubrious hills of Kandy, has not lost his sparkle and his love for creating and not even his age has diminished his verve. Having heard of him decades ago and seeing some of his unique designs kindled my curiosity but the legendary designer remained elusive. This was until the year 2017 when I interviewed Bryony De Fonseka, the multi-talented wife of Lasantha De Fonseka of Tiesh by Lakmini fame. Upon interviewing them, I had found a gem (pun intended) which was the fact that Bryony was the niece of Aldo and was closely connected to his work. I was thrilled when Bryony was keen to organize a rendezvous but it took two years to actually meet Aldo in person and I was in awe!
After all, Aldo’s contribution to fashion is colossal and the fact that his work is celebrated from generation to generation lays claim to his boundless passion to enhance the beauty of the wearer; from brides, to models, celebrities, foreign nationals and many others from various ethnic backgrounds. His fame had spread far and wide.
At the interview were his beloved nieces, Bryony and Annemarie, who had been his assistants and his source of pride and joy as they flaunted many of his creations at various milestones in their lives. Recollecting his journey was a cause for much gaiety among the uncle and nieces who had been instrumental in causing quite a stir with their eclectic designs. Aldo began his illustrious journey into the world of designing through the sheer love for it, after all,his nimble fingers and creative flair could not be suppressed. Hence, it began for the young school boy, yet in his teens who stitched to his heart’s content and was thrilled when he gradually gained a fan following. His eye-catching designs gained momentum and he expanded his portfolio to include bridal designs, wardrobe designs for stage drama and movies and haute couture for many reputed fashion shows among others. His customers included the celebrities of yesteryear and even the more recent star-studded casts of the island. His popularity spread internationally, even among the Sri Lankan diaspora living overseas.
In an era, when designing and stitching your own clothes were common place and retail was unheard of, Aldo shot to fame as his designs were appealing and unique. His signature were the Kandyan bridals which had traditional motifs and included the best of our heritage intertwined with a modern touch, making it a family heirloom even to be passed from mother to daughter.
Continuing a tradition
Currently, Aldo enjoys relative ease as an octogenarian and refrains from stitching but his mind is sharp and his creativity and meticulous attention to detail is sharper. He enjoys overlooking the design element of the stitching which continuous unperturbed as many who appreciate the value of quality above all else seek him even though he prefers to remain aloof from the limelight.
Aldo was also instrumental in designing the wedding saree for my mother-in-law, Lalani who is the wife of the famous rugby player, Viper Gunaratne (Sr.) which adds a sentimental value to the article.