October 12, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

Pleats Please

Schulen Fernandes is carrying forward the legacy of Wendell Rodricks’ decision to drop out of the race of hectic fashion, and Samant Chauhan’s ‘palette cleanser’ ivories and bold floral deluge interspersed with the science of human fragility as witnessed in Goethe’s Faust was enriching

By Asmita Aggarwal

There are very few living designers who have the conviction and courage to pass the baton on to a young person, they have trained, giving them the leeway to take over the reins of the label that they built brick by brick.

Much like Valentino, who has Pier Paolo Piccoli as the head or elusive recluse Martin Margiela’s maison which is now in control of the enfant terrible John Galliano. The Belgian designer is reportedly working with Palais Galliera or the City of Paris Fashion Museum, on a retrospective of his work, after he disappeared in 2009 throwing in the towel.

It takes a rather huge man, to do this and Goa-based impresario of everything relaxed, Wendell Rodricks, displayed this magnanimity when he met, Schulen Fernandes, who now designs and heads his label.



“Wendell is so talented. He’s not just a designer. He’s a writer, a published author. When you’re doing those many things, I think you need to give back and that’s what he’s doing with Goa. And, because I’ve schooled under him, it’s simpler for us to get each other and put out a collection that’s still resonates with his aesthetic,” she adds.


The ode to indigo in IndigoFera (the name of the plant that the dye is extracted from), had a bit of the famous hue blue intermingled with ingeniously placed pleats at unexpected places.

Like the collarbone or the side hems or armholes of short dresses. She retained Wendell’s artistry which abandoned structure, but gave it relevance, with shapes that accentuated the female form without constricting it. Linen was her fabric of choice along with tiered effects that she cavorted with on sleeves as pops of colours were added by the fabric belts, used to define the waists.

“I graduated from SNDT college and started interning, with Wendell, which lasted for about three months. I stayed on for four years at his label. Then, I moved to Bombay because that’s my home. This was the time when Wendell got involved in wanting to open a museum and write a book, so he wanted to pass on the legacy to someone else,” says Fernandes.

She took over three years ago and last August was her first show, so this is her third showing. “In terms of sensibility, I’ve schooled under his minimalist design and imbibed that from him. Wendell does a lot of geometric forms and I love that too, though I’ve tried to make it modern,” she explains.


The first day of AIFW SS’18 also saw historical and book references being brought alive through the medium of fashion; just what Samant Chauhan did. His recent trips abroad fueled his interest in the German writer Wolfgang Goethe, and his critically acclaimed play Faust, about a struggling scholar who contemplates suicide disillusioned by books and chemistry. White seemed an appropriate hue for the protagonist’s portrayal, which has also been a constant in Samant’s line since the Bhagalpur boy entered fashion.

His off shoulder jumpsuits and ruffled renditions as well as tone-on-tone embroidery created quiet splendour. To take us back to Victorian times, Samant added suspenders on his skirts as well as detachable exaggerated collars, trumpet sleeves and fishtail panelled gowns (with offered flashes of chilli red). There was a subtle transparency in the tunics and the play of buckles fastened on gossamer tops as well as criss-cross lacing.

There were contemporary leitmotifs too, like the hooded gowns, larger-than-life sleeves and mini capes. It was a departure from his repetitive angrakhas and floor sweeping tunics that were a favourite of his Middle-East buyers and a foray into the unknown, the 17th century phenomenon that he explored, and the robust flowers that hypnotized him in Paris!

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