At the Dreft Fashion Week in Zagreb, Croatia from May 6th to 9th, fashion designer Mandali Mendrilla, a Krishna devotee, displayed designs inspired by the Vaishnava practice of Bhakti-yoga and the philosophy of the Bhagavad-gita.
Originally from Croatia herself, Mandali began tailoring and designing clothes as a child. She previously participated in Croatian Fashion Week in 1996, 1997, and 2008, and has won its I.F.F. Fashion News Grand Prix - Golden Line award.
“Croatian Fashion Week is a celebration of creativity and fashion on a worldwide scale, and it’s a great opportunity to present your work and meet designers from all over the world,” she says.
Mandali displayed twenty-six outfits at this year’s event from her three fashion labels. As clouds flashed across the sky on a huge projector screen and Moby’s “Porcelain” pounded out of the speakers, models first strode down the runway wearing her Lalalali collection. This is a luxury organic line of shirts designed to offer comfort and style at leisure, sports and yoga practice.
Inspired by Italian architecture and the Croatian islands, the outfits were decorated with drawings of the sacred symbols that decorate the feet of Srimati Radharani, Lord Krishna’s divine consort, including the conch, chakra, and lotus flower.
The drawings were created by second generation devotee Drdha Vrata Gorrick, who spent five years in South India studying traditional iconography, sculpture and painting according to the Vedic Shilpa Shastras, and is currently working on the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur.
“Although South Indian art is usually done in a very venerable style, Drdha brought out the sweetness as well,” Mandali says. “I felt that his art was a perfect blend of sweetness and symmetry.”
The Lalalali collection also incorporated elements of traditional Vaishnava dress, including the dhoti, the sari, and the chaddar; and models folded their hands in prayer as they reached the end of the runway.
Next, sped-up video of a busy city was projected as the models displayed Mandali’s more modern Mendrilla Limitedition collection, featuring one-of-a-kind items that are a blend of European design, inspiration from the streets and offices of Manhattan, and the tradition of ancient India. The special feature of this collection is the use of Ahimsa silk.
“When I went to Vrindavana, India some time ago, I was inspired by the peace silk there that they produce without killing silkworms,” Mandali says. “It was made in many beautiful colors, and so I thought to connect my limited edition collection to that.”
Finally, from her Mandali Mendrilla Atalier haute couture label, models displayed Mandali’s Slave2Love collection, inspired by the teachings of the Bhagavad-gita. With its bright, flowing frills and ruffles bringing to mind the butterfly escaping from its cocoon, the collection is an expression of the fragile nature of the human body versus the eternality of the spirit dwelling within.
Hand-painted and partially hand embellished by Mandali herself, Slave2Love’s message of the indestructible spirit soul is particularly poignant as it was originally released in loving memory of her late husband Nitai Das, who passed away in a car accident on January 31st, 2012.
As the show came to a conclusion, the audience on either side of the runway applauded as Mandali herself appeared, folding her hands and bowing her head.
After the show, many came backstage to congratulate her. Mandali says there is now also interest in the market for her clothes.
Looking to the future, Mandali doesn’t know what her next collection will be, but it’s likely to include spiritual elements again.
“I really love Krishna and feel deeply connected to Krishna consciousness, and there’s so much happiness that I get from that,” she says. “And in my collections I like to express that happiness of bhakti, of the love that I feel, through the clothes.”
Aside from her professional career, Mandali is also currently designing clothing to be worn by street chanters of the Hare Krishna mantra.
“I’m working now with some Krishna devotees to try to make that happen,” she says. “It will be like a styled, designed kirtan presentation in the streets! I’m very happy about it – it was always something that I wanted to do.”
Mandali hopes her work will be an inspiration to other artists who are followers of the Bhakti path.
“I would like to inspire them to share their work with the world, in the best possible way,” she says. “And also to be perfectionists; but not to be such perfectionists that it impedes them from getting their work out there.”
“I feel,” she concludes, “That there is a bright future, when we can present more and more of the beautiful devotional designs of talented devotees from all over the world.”
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A video of Mandali’s show at Dreft Fashion Week in Zagreb can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpGcfVv-F6s
To see more of Mandali’s designs, please visit http://lalalali.com/ or http://mendrilla.com/. You can also like her Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/LALALALI.LALALAND and https://www.facebook.com/MANDALI.MENDRILLA.[ croatia ] [ fashion ]