ohé Island is run by the artist Nelun Harasgama, known for her haunting, minimalist canvases. It's located down Pedris Road and is home to some splendid saris amongst other interesting trinkets.
If you're into batik and handloom saris then you're in for a real treat. The saris are made from 100% pure cotton and raw silk. Upon closer inspection, you'll find that a lot of work is put into making sure that everything is picture perfect. The patchwork saris look like a lot of hours were spent over them, with a very skilled craftsperson meticulously working on placement and design. True, each sari costs a fortune (starting at Rs. 20,000 and going up to Rs. 80,000), but they're well worth it considering that the designers and craftspeople are paid a fair wage, each design is unique, and a lot of interesting detail is incorporated into the saris.
For starters, they've incorporated Beeralu Lace wherever possible into most of their saris and tops alike. Beeralu Lace making ('Beeralu' here meaning wooden bobbins) is a dying craft that hails from Down South (especially within the Fort) and has been present since the time of the Portuguese. Now considered a heritage craft, this extraordinarily beautiful crochet work is an arduous thing to produce, as a lot of time, concentration and effort is needed to make sure that the mesh pattern turns out immaculately. The Beeralu lacework in these pieces didn't have a single stitch out of line and it's apparent that great care has been observed in order to deliver such a precise product.
Their range of tops are beautiful as they are light and airy so they're a wonderful addition to the island child's wardrobe. However the catch here is that none of these items are very cheap, with tops starting from Rs. 7,000 upwards. If you've got the means however then I suggest you splurge because each item of clothing here is unique and the only one of its kind. Plus, you're paying the same amount here for a locally-made, hand-crafted piece as opposed to the same amount you'd spend at a mass-produced line like Mango etc.
ohé also has a few accessories on sale; like their vintage-inspired handmade bags. They've also got a few leather bags starting at Rs. 7,500 and these come with a minimal design for the more sophisticated couturiers.
In addition to the handbags, they've also got a few bits and pieces consisting of jewellery, aprons, linen shorts, and painted ornaments such as cups and saucers.
The boutique is quaint, with whitewashed walls wooden chairs and a very minimalist-vintage vibe. They've made great use of the space and you'll see a few paintings up for sale on the walls as well, so keep an eye out in case you might find anything that piques your interest.
The entrance gives off a lovely Alice In Wonderland effect. The door is always closed and in order to be given access, you must follow the instructions given on a little sign that says 'Please Ring The Bell' placed directly above the bell on the top right-hand corner of the door. A sweet lady will then let you in and either leave you alone or give you all sorts of interesting details depending on how engaged you wish to be. Ask her your questions and she'll give you her opinions on which sari is good for which occasion (if you're intending to make a purchase, that is).
ohé Island might burn a hole through your wallet but their saris make up for the damage. With unique pieces inspired by famous artwork, hand-crafted specialist design and elusive Beeralu lace, the clothes you buy here are collectables themselves.
PS: A point that we particularly love is how Nelun Harasgama and her husband style their images. Each is a one-of-a-kind item created with somebody in mind, and their advertising reflects that. You won't find staged shoots with models gazing into the middle distance. These are all strong, emotive women (and men!) rocking their statement sari and their personality!
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Good bean bags. 'nuff said.