Making Her Mark
From a childhood in India to adult years spent in Scotland, London, and South Africa, Chandan Allen has lived a cherished life abroad. Now, she has planted her roots in California and spends her days designing chic, swoon-worthy pieces for Mélange, her flagship boutique in the United States. Gentry’s Emily Heitmann reports.
As a child in India, designer Chandan Allen recalls a childhood spent on her living room floor, scissors in hand, making patterns and creating clothing she couldn’t wait to put on. “I remember, one summer, I made a skirt for work. I loved it and was so proud to wear what I made,” she shares. Aiming for a professional path into the business world, Allen later studied commerce and business management at university. “But my heart was never in it,” she adds. “It’s not what I wanted.”
It wasn’t until her time in Scotland that the whispers of design began to grow louder. Allen and her husband were married in London in 1999 before he was transferred up north. “We were living in Aberdeen and I had the choice to either pursue an MBA or study fashion. I thought, ‘Why not choose fashion? Now is the time.’ So I did,” she says.
A year of formal training in Scotland led to a return to London to perfect her craft. “One day, I told my husband we were moving back to London and I’d gotten myself into one of the best colleges in the world—where all the European fashion designers are trained,” Allen recalls. The aforementioned school was Central Saint Martins and the likes of John Galliano, Zac Posen, and Stella McCartney have wandered those halls. “It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I was very determined to make the move,” she adds. “I had tasted it in Scotland. Now I wanted a bigger bite.”
“To me, it’s all about being feminine, elegant, and it’s got to make a statement. It’s not about blending in.”
After studies in London, travels all over Europe, and growing a family, Allen found herself in South Africa in 2007. “South Africa is so beautiful and liberating—the landscape, the people, the energy—it opened a different world for me,” she recalls. It was there that she launched her business, set up a factory in India, and opened her first Mélange boutique in Cape Town in 2012. “That’s when my journey began,” Allen says.
The next chapter in Allen’s story is taking place right here in Northern California, where her United States flagship Mélange boutique is brightening the scene at Stanford Shopping Center. Allen’s marvelous new store is airy and bright—a blank canvas for her clothing’s eye-catching array of colors and patterns. The store also features her eponymous clothing line as well as her contemporary ready-to-wear brand, The Sancy. Allen believes women should be wearing pieces that are timeless. “To me, it’s all about being feminine, elegant, and it’s got to make a statement,” she explains. “It’s not about blending in.” The upcoming fall collection is inspired by her time in Scotland—so we can expect a bonnie twist on plaid and tartan.
Mélange, Stanford Shopping Center | www.melangestyle.com