Benzaar at Wellawatte can breathe Bollywood style glamour into anyone.
Words Yomal Senerath-Yapa | Photographs Isuru Upeksha
Wellawatte offers a veritable passage to India. Its saree shop windows glow with all the colours of Holi and glisten with all the gold and silver of an eastern treasure. To stand out amidst all this, a shop will have to be very unique or chic.
Leave behind these gritty and often too sunny streets, and enter Benzaar. Here, you will find yourself in bright, white-lit immaculacy, with floor space enough for a ballroom. The feel of having plenty of space is pleasant and welcoming.
The ground floor is dedicated to children’s wear. They have clothing for every event in your child’s social calendar, from casual to party wear. The Indian theme means that the clothing is vivid, bright and positive. They have an almost decadent selection of party dresses for girls: beaded, bright, pretty and princess-like. Boys have a selection of blazers, made with attention to the smallest detail. They will also like the grown-up glamour of quality jeans made to suit them.
Take the lift upstairs to the first floor, where mature, smart attire for men and women share space; this floor is given to office clothes mostly, but they have a beguiling selection of kurtas too. Kurtas as a fact are essentially lit up by the designs they sport on the front. The ones here are printed with very intricate, ethnic patterns.
This floor is also dedicated to men. Here it had been thought good to curb the colours a bit; but only in the workday clothing area: bright clothing is again very much in evidence in other corners of this floor. They have the whole gamut, from brands to traditional Indian formal wear, passing through sports wear, shoes, ties and belts.
The second floor dedicated to sarees is the heart of Benzaar, the shop being best known for yards and yards of elegance. The sarees here have been woven and designed in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangkok and Sri Lanka, and staff are ready to deftly unroll six yards of designs that you want to scrutinize or drape over your shoulder. From polka dots to gold work to lovely trousseaux, they have an array any woman will get lost in.
The last floor here is sheer Bollywood fantasy: beautiful lehengas, shalwars, shawls and cholis to bring out gypsy queens and movie stars in everyday women.
Benzaar, despite being only two years old, is already a place reputed among discerning brides getting ready for their nuptials, divas looking for a posh saree or a mother looking for a fairy frock for her daughter. Especially in a time when the tinsel and glamour of Bollywood is seeping into the western world and when Indian fashion is regarded with new eyes everywhere, heading to Benzaar would be a very fashionable move.
45, Galle Road,
(+94 11) 250 5440