Wendy Schindler has always loved working with her hands, and couture is all about craftsmanship.
Operating out of her Richmond studio, Devotion Designs, Schindler creates colourful and intricate gowns that any woman can wear.
She was first drawn to designing couture pieces during her program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Wilson School of Design, which she graduated from earlier this year.
Couture requires hours of handwork: hand-sewing, beading and embellishing, said Schindler. Some of her gowns have more than 700 hours of hand-beading work put into them, making the creations wearable art.
“Some of the gowns, I’ve hand-dyed them in natural indigo (a tropical plant that creates a dark blue dye),” said Schindler, “And when you use indigo, it’s almost like a living thing when you’re using it. You never really know how it’s going to turn out and it’s kind of fun. It can be a bit frustrating sometimes, but it turns into this masterpiece, this piece of art.”
With more and more people drawn to Schindler’s art, the recent grad’s career is taking off.
Schindler first showed at VFW when she was still a student, three weeks into her final year at KPU.
And the designer is currently in Europe, where her latest spring-summer 2020 collection walked down the runway at London Fashion Week on Sept. 14, and will also be shown this month at Paris Fashion Week on Sept. 28.
The collection will also be shown at Vancouver Fashion Week (VFW) in October.
The collection draws from the Romantic Era (approx. 1789-1850) and the French Revolution, said Schindler, who often references historical eras in her designs.
“The French Revolution was all about freedom and equality between the rich and the poor,” said Schindler. “And I thought that kind of ties back in with what’s going on nowadays. So that’s how I came to this idea and the theme for the season.”
Schindler is also inspired by the body-positivity movement, and works to create gowns that all women can wear.
“The average North American woman wears a size 14 to 16, and all of these luxury, high-end brands stop at a size 12. So (that) didn’t really make sense to me,” said Schindler.
With her upcoming show at VFW, Schindler hopes women will realize that someone is out there creating luxury designs for them, in a city that is typically more drawn to athletic wear.
“I want to leave all these women inspired and (let them) know they have someone out there that wants to … make them the clothes that they see in these magazines and they see on the high street and on the runway,” said Schindler.
VFW will run from Oct. 7 to 13 at David Lam Hall in Vancouver.