Inspired by the post office

Sreejith Jeevan at the preview of his collection at Pepper House. Photo: Thulasi Kakkat  

Sreejith Jeevan works to a certain personal zeitgeist. His designs evolve out of where he is at the time or what he feels. He doesn’t work to a forecast or a trend; he prefers his sensibility and his label Rouka’s identity. This time the muse came to him through letters, ones his late grandmother wrote to his mother, and he translated them into the collection, ‘Write To Me’, which he will present at the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) to be held in Mumbai later this month. This is Rouka’s third outing at LFW.

The collection elaborates the theme, of being wrought by hand, which is also a metaphor for lost sensibility (of writing letters) much like the crafts made by hand. The entire vocabulary of the post office – stamps, inland letters, postal envelopes, the postman’s uniform – find expression in design. As do terms of endearment.

In a first for Rouka, the collection at the Fashion Week is bridal. “We have shied away from doing bridal all this while, this time we thought let’s go all out quirky bridal,” says Sreejith Jeevan at his studio in Ravipuram. Hangers in a room wear the garments waiting for their outing on the ramp, forming a sort of backdrop as he tells the story of how the collection came to be.

The colour story of the collection is the Kerala traditional white and gold with a dash of black and red. White and gold are, after all, the colours of the Malayali wedding. “The plan was, initially, to do just white and gold but the colours seeped into the collection. We didn’t want too much of the khaki of the postman’s uniform. We added the colours to bring power to the ensembles.” White, gold and quirk makes for an interesting set of garments at Sreejith’s hands.

There is no space for the staple of bridal-wear lehenga in this collection, instead it has, for the ‘powerful women’, maxis, jumpsuits, jackets, tunics, pants, dresses and saris to tell the playful, bridal story. “After all Rouka is about nostalgia and quirk,” Sreejith says. The accent is on androgyny, which is an unexpected twist to the feminine white and gold combination. The collection has been worked on cotton ( mundu-neriyathu fabric) and silks such as tussar.

Rouka-like blouses with post-box detailing with a pocket on the back, dresses with the LFW address emblazoned on the chest, post-box red jackets with gold detailing, shirts and jackets with layers of collars reminiscent of the pages of a book and sheets of letters, pants with serrated edges of stamps, dresses with appliquéd envelopes that look like there are letters in them, endearment placement-embroidered on the border of a sari, little embroidered love notes – despite the profusion of elements he never goes overboard; each garment is understated. The element of androgyny extends to the dori embroidery, which is bold and lacks the de rigueur delicateness associated with embroidery for women’s garments. The collection is that perfect Rouka balance of ‘nostalgia and quirk’.

“The collection is a lot about being dressy without trying too hard. The styling comes from the easy, effortless Rouka sensibility. The theme is Winter Festive and with winter we associate layering which I have done in this collection.” Not just as design elements in individual pieces, the layering comes through even when the separates come together as ensembles. The collection was previewed at Pepper House, Fort Kochi on August 5.

Sreejith, a graduate of the National Institute of Design (NID) and the Ecole Nationale Superieure Des Arts Decoratifs, Paris, launched his label Rouka and set up his eponymous store more than a year ago. Besides retailing from his standalone store Rouka at Valanjambalam and Pepper House, he retails from stores such as Ensemble, Cinnamon, Amethyst, and Fuel across cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Kolkata and Chennai. His work experience includes a stint with Ikea India and with designer Rajesh Pratap Singh for a season.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 8:32:57 PM |

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