The latest collections by award-winning fashion designer and Krishna devotee Mandali Mendrilla, inspired by her path of devotion, have been featured in the February issue of British Vogue magazine.
The magazine’s staff told Mandali that they felt her beautiful contemporary designs would be a perfect fit for their customers.
The photos in their piece depict her Lalalali “Radha Pada” and Silk and Colors collections, which are designed specifically for yoga and meditation. The clothes incorporate sacred symbols from the feet of Srimati Radharani, Lord Krishna’s eternal consort, drawn by second generation devotee artist Drdha Gorrick in a traditional South Indian style.
One outfit featured in Vogue, a flowing black shirt and pants ensemble, uses the chariot from Radharani’s feet on the back, while the other uses the moon from Her feet on a shirt collar. Other outfits in the collection utilize the conch, chakra, and lotus symbols.
“I was very inspired by Drdha’s artwork from the moment I saw it in Mayapur, West Bengal,” says Mandali, originally from Croatia but now dividing her time between the U.S. and Amsterdam. “His South Indian art is not in the usual venerable mood, but in a very sweet mood.”
Mandali involves young professionals who grew up in ISKCON in many elements of her work. The photographs featured in Vogue are taken by pro fashion photographer Bimala Naysmith, while the models pictured dancing in the clothes are Rasarani and Vrajasundari Keilman, daughters of Prabhupada disciple Hare Krishna Das.
Rasarani Keilman of the Samadhi Dance Company wears a pink coat with Radharani's moon symbol on the collar of her shirt
Both sisters are members of the Amsterdam-based Samadhi Dance Company, which fuses the music and culture of the ancient Vedas with Western art and contemporary dance techniques. Their 2011 production “Saranagati” received the prestigious Dutch Dance Audience Award. The photos were taken in their dance studio.
“They were expressing the inspiration they got from Radharani’s symbols while dancing in the clothes,” says Mandali. “It was really magical to work with them.”
Rasarani and Vraja Sundari are set to be “brand ambassadors” for Mandali’s Lalalali collection, wearing her clothes during some of their performances. London-based kirtan artist Jahnavi Harrison, also a second generation ISKCON devotee, plans to wear the clothes during her kirtans too.
As well as using symbols from Srimati Radharani’s feet, Mandali also tries to inform her designs with other Bhakti-yoga principles.
“Bhakti-yoga is not about externals,” she says. “The main thing is the mood of the heart, which is offered in love, both to God, and to other living entities. I’m trying to express that mood of equality, appreciation, gratitude and love in the clothes.”
In fact, she also runs her whole company – American luxury clothing label Mandali Mendrilla – on Bhakti principles.
Samadhi Dance Company Director Vraja Sundari Keilman
“The Bhagavad-gita and other ancient scriptures teach that the greatest service to the whole is to serve the little parts and parcels of the whole,” she says. “So I’m trying to create a mood of mutual service in the company, where staff are both concentrated on serving the company, but also each other, and of course, the customers.”
Mandali is inspired in her career by Krishna’s devotees. “When Prabhupada’s early disciple, the late Yamuna Devi, last visited Mayapur, she gave me a piece of Srila Prabhupada’s chaddar [shawl] which he had worn at the Radha Damodara temple and said: ‘This is for your fashion business.’ I feel her love and blessings when I do my work and remember her kindness.”
Mandali tries to infuse her efforts with the kind of care for others that devotees like Yamuna Devi epitomize. Her Silk and Colors collection is created by cottage industry in the sacred town of Vrindavana, India using Ahimsa silk and leaving silkworms unharmed in the process.
Meanwhile part of the profits from her Lalalali collection will go towards Vrindavana’s Sandipani Muni Schools, which provide free education, healthy meals and medical care for young women in need.
With these kind of positive business practices supporting collections that Vogue calls “cosmopolitan,” with “clean lines” and “sophisticated graphics,” it’s no wonder that the world’s leading fashion magazine is paying attention.
“I really loved that they recognized my work,” Mandali says. “Vogue is the most respected fashion magazine on the planet, and being featured by them is a major milestone in any fashion designer’s career and one of the greatest honors we can receive. It’s a sign of accomplishment in the quality of one’s design, and of recognition from the mainstream fashion community. So I feel really, really inspired and privileged to have had the chance to appear in Vogue and recommended to their readership.”
Mandali Mendrilla featured in the February issue of British Vogue
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