Schulen Fernandes On Taking Over From Wendell Rodricks
Your breakthrough moment?
Taking over as creative head for the Wendell Rodricks label, for sure. That’s big! Winning 12 out of 18 awards at my graduating show in design school gave me the courage, at 20 years of age, to walk up to a fashion legend like Wendell to request for an internship. This was after politely refusing an offer to work with another prominent design house. I knew where my sensibilities would be best nurtured and I’m glad I took that chance. It has been the best decision so far!
Working with Wendell Rodricks has been….
An experience every young designer must have. He is a great mentor and there’s always so much to absorb from him — not just at work, but in various aspects of life. His brilliance as a designer, author, and food and travel enthusiast is well known. He has a fantastic energy.
What are your plans for the future?
It’s most certainly about keeping the legacy going. Both Wendell and I believe in the idea of ‘less is more’. My blueprint for the brand is to keep the DNA intact and give it a contemporary twist. The dynamics will be younger, sassy silhouettes; new-age fabrics; driving the eco-sensitive vein of the label further; and extending the brand into other aspects of fashion merchandise and luxury lifestyle segments.
Do you see more veteran Indian designers handing over the reins as many international brands do?
Yes, hopefully. It would be wonderful to see legendary Indian names like Tarun Tahiliani, Rohit Bal and more carry forth their legacies through a well-appointed successor. In my opinion, every designer experiences some level of fatigue after spending two to three decades helming a brand. I think it’s a great way forward, but again it’s a personal choice and it does take a lot of courage to trust another person implicitly with your baby.
Your fashion icons are…?
Internationally, it’s Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli, Viktor & Rolf, and Marc Jacobs. In India, I have always loved Rohit Bal for the way he presents a cohesive collection so beautifully, Rajesh Pratap Singh for his classic and crisp creations, and Anamika Khanna and Rahul Mishra for their textile interpretations.
Your design philosophy?
Designs need to be wearable, unique and versatile. I strongly believe that clothes should never outshine the personality wearing them. My personal style is minimal with a sporty twist, and comfort is an important factor in all my ensembles and fabrics. I hate it when I see people wear clothes that are part of a fashion trend but clearly not part of their inherent style.
What’s in store for the future?
We plan to innovate with Indian textiles at a grassroots level and extend ourselves into other aspects of fashion and lifestyle. Wendell will soon start on-site work for the museum that he has been working diligently to create for the past 15-plus years. That’s very exciting for us at the company.