It's been a season of multiple designer and brand partnerships, but one alliance that has come as a pleasant surprise is Wendell Rodricks x Amit Aggarwal, a marriage of two distinct aesthetics and viewpoints.
While Aggarwal's inventive design sensibilities have always explored upcycling and re-engineering textiles, the brand Wendell Rodricks has constantly surprised the style cognoscenti with its Susegad-inspired timeless design steeped in refined minimalism. This collaboration, a tribute to the late Indian designer Wendell Rodricks, is a fresh take on the AA universe inspired by the world of Wendell Rodricks. Think ring details and fringes on geometric cuts in an explosion of vibrant colours, two-toned kaftans in pastel hues, floor-length halter dresses punctuated with multi-hued tassels. All in all, a vibrant take on holiday chic, realised with a playful twist.
In an interview with Lounge, Aggarwal and Jerome Merell (Wendell's partner who introduced Aggarwal to the late designer's vast body of work), talk about the collaboration, choosing Wendell's forever muse Malaika Arora for the campaign, and the idea behind the partnership. Edited excerpts:
AA: I immersed myself in Wendell's environment, allowing his essence to deeply resonate with me. Spending time with Jerome at their charming Goa residence has become a cherished memory. He introduced me to Wendell's body of work and took me on a tour of his favourite spots in a Goan village, including his upcoming museum. This experience provided me with a more profound insight into the true essence of Wendell Rodricks, and it served as a tremendous source of inspiration.
I found an innate respect for the human body in Wendell’s work and his use of geometry in garments. In crafting this collection, I've endeavoured to blend geometric shapes with a sense of fluidity and ease. Everything I’ve brought forth with these garments incorporates a circle, so the entire collection is a play of Wendell’s favorite colours. Another aspect treasured by him that has been added in the collection is fringing. We have softened a cording technique from Amit Aggarwal material to create a more structured fringe which is still very fluid.
JM: It involved a very deep understanding of Wendell's ethos and aligning it with Amit Aggarwal's distinctive style. It is a fusion of Wendell's nature-inspired, simplistic, and fluid designs with Aggarwal's, who's known for structural, futuristic and innovative creations. The use of materials like silk, dori-work, and fringes, combined with capes, dresses, and ponchos, represents a blend of their aesthetics.
AA: Wendell’s work always reflected a spirit of peace and tranquility, perhaps because Susegad was in his blood. Of course, revisiting his style would be impossible without bringing in that same sense of laidback ease and joie de vivre.
JM: Susegad means the typical relaxed and content Goan way of life in a world always in motion. This spirit is translated in the collection with the easy-flowing resort wear silhouettes.
AA: For this collaboration, we traced down a common denominator that would bring both of us to equals and we believed, unanimously, it had to be Malaika. She is the embodiment of Wendell’s most memorable campaigns and she has worn some of the most iconic pieces from our brand as well. I firmly believed that if there was one individual capable of seamlessly blending both worlds and elevating this collaboration to its true beauty, it was her.
AA: I believe that the key factor here is the mutual appreciation and respect we hold for one another. Naturally, from a business perspective, the expectation of expanding our customer base is also a significant consideration.
AA: This collection comprises 15 unique styles with a total of 35 pieces with colourways. It is a fusion of simple asymmetrical tops to tunics, long dresses and capes. These gender-neutral pieces are not size specific. It’s also versatile, the drape can be used to create different shapes and forms, for example a skirt can convert from a dhoti drape to a trapeze.
The collection will be available online on Wendell Rodrickss official website and Pernia’s official website, along with a physical presence in select Wendell and Pernia's brick and mortar stores.
AA: I've never had the opportunity to meet Wendell in person, despite having done shows at the same fashion week.The only fleeting glimpse I had of him was when he was orchestrating one of his shows, and I observed from the back, witnessing him excel in his role as the true maestro that he was. It's likely that this glimpse of his talent played a significant role in bringing about this remarkable collaboration.
AA: He has had a lasting impact on fashion in India. Of course, his work deserves to be revisited but nothing can match the beauty of his infectious smile, his warm-hearted nature, and his incredible spirit.