वेंडेल रॉड्रिक्सः गोवा येथील भटक्या – टाइम्स ऑफ इंडिया

वेंडेल रॉड्रिक्सः गोवा येथील भटक्या – टाइम्स ऑफ इंडिया

Translating…

The man who made fashion, fashionable in the 90s and rightfully put India on the global map left everyone shocked with his untimely death. We look back at his effervescence and his admirable passion through an old article.

This article was first printed as a chapter in the coffee table book ‘Fashion Fair – The Journey of 13 contemporary designers’ by Vinita Dawra Nangia. The book, published by Times Group Books in 2012, carried work profiles and interviews of 13 leading fashion designers.

WENDELL RODRICKS
IT’S ALL ABOUT STYLE; FASHION IS STYLE!

Wendell Rodricks has swum against the tide more often than he has swum with it. And yet settled in his quiet village Colvale in Goa, he is one with Nature, allowing her sights and sounds to permeate his being, to flow out in the shape of exquisite easy-flowing garments that are one with the beauty that surrounds him.

Eschewing the razzmatazz and opportunities of life in Mumbai, against better judgment, Wendell opted to settle with partner Jerome in his native village, in a ramshackle house that he restored to pristine beauty. The approach roads were difficult and basic amenities such as electricity and water whimsical, but Wendell was determined to make this his base, pretty sure that the world would find him. And it did.

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Proximity to Nature ensures that Wendell’s creations reflect the beauty and magical quality of his surroundings. He uses natural fabrics and even makes his accessories out of natural materials such as feathers, coconut shells and sea shells. Having led a nomadic life till his native village called out, Wendell’s clothes reflect inspirations as varied as the Tibetan monasteries, tribal symbols of Shiva and Vishnu, the tattoos of women of the Lambadi tribe, or the Harem at Istanbul. Says the designer, “I find my inspiration everywhere — from Tibetan monasteries to the harem in Istanbul; from making clothes for the visually challenged to the Goa Police uniforms. Put any design challenge under my nose and I will jump at it. Design is a very interesting, stimulating world!”

After a six-year career in hotel management, Wendell saved enough to educate himself in fashion, getting a degree in Los Angeles and later doing a year of fashion design in Paris. He returned to India in 1988 at a time when contemporary Indian fashion had started evolving itself into an industry. Two years designing for Garden Vareli, Lakme and DeBeers, and Wendell launched his label in 1989. From here on, the path was clear. He shifted base to Goa in 1993. “I wanted to live in Colvale as a proud Gaoncar. This was my destiny.” From here on life took on a steady, settled note for Wendell and his oeuvre flowed.

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Wendell has a very definite design philosophy. “Apart from the minimal approach, I keep Goa in the garments and I cut in a unique way based on Indian geometry. I cut my clothes myself, use no embroidery and evolve each season keeping my parameters and philosophy at the core of each garment. Unconsciously the clothes are also timeless. I see ladies wearing a 20-year-old garment and it still looks contemporary. I gave India minimalism, resort wear and eco- friendly garments before the words were coined.”

The turning point for Wendell came when he was the first Indian to be invited to show at IGEDO! Dussledorf, the world’s largest garment fair. “I knew then that my designing career would not be the same again. That year 1995 was the turning point in making me a brand!”

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Wendell realized he had a winner on his hands and stuck to his guns. He writes in his book ‘The Green Room’, “Fame was at my threshold — and I was euphoric. One day you are no one; the next day your name is splashed everywhere.”A recurrent theme in Wendell’s collections is fluidity. He has mastered the art of making a garment seem like it is floating in air. “The secret,” reveals the designer, “is the fine seams and superfund hems that my studio has perfected! It is my job to make women slimmer, taller and feel beautiful. To that end, I use every couture technique to achieve the best result. I employ sheer fabric, asymmetric lines, colour play, vertical lines and layering. When used together, the result is a garment that slims and lengthens the figure. That is what all women want…to be slimmer and taller!”

The designer is known for his whites and is in his element when using it in its pristine virginal form. His minimal cuts and flowy silhouettes along with the fluid fabrics he uses look dreamy, whimsical and airy in whites. However, as he proudly declares, “I can do colour. I am unafraid of bright colours and for Blenders Pride Fashion Tours specifically, the brighter the better.”

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The textiles the designer likes working with differ from show to show. However he favours cotton, linen and silks, preferably dyed with natural dyes. Asymmetric hems, lots of flowy air-weight fabric, and a feeling of being afloat are what Wendell’s garments are about. Says Wendell, “Since I cut the clothes myself, I know exactly how a garment will fall when it is being cut. I do not need to drape a garment and rarely do so. The algebra and geometry is in my head and I conceive the patterns very clearly before putting scissors to cloth. I use a technique called Cutting On Squares. My next book is on this method of cutting that is used by mist Indian tailors. They use it by instinct and cannot explain it. After years of observing them, I have cracked the code.”

The one thing Wendell steers clear of is bling. Clear, neat lines, no embellishments nor texturing is his clear mantra. “I do not wish to be known for clothes that make a grand entry. I prefer if people see Sonam’s personality rather than the clothes. A garment should not enter a room. The personality should. The clothes are just an extension of her mind. And yes, a lady should be able to sit in the garment as comfortably as a man will slip it off. It is a unique sensuousness when a person views a garment and thinks in his mind that just a slip off the shoulder and the dress will fall to the floor!”

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Wendell once revealed what he had learnt in Paris about the technique of “creating freshness for collections!” “You have to get into the emotion of your theme and everything follows from there. I spend a month thinking of the pieces, then draw them out. After this I lock myself up, not go out anywhere for about three weeks as I develop my collection.” Living in a small village keeps Wendell isolated and away from visual bombardments that create chaos. This helps him come up with collections that are “Indian and Goan in spirit, but international in wearability.”

Ask him what fashion means to him and the designer retorts, “Fashion means nothing to me. I detest the word ‘fashion’ because it has the sense of ‘what’s in fashion now?’ I am a timeless, trendless designer. But I concentrate on style; for me, fashion is style. It’s all about developing your own style and taking it forward!”

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Wendell declares he has no interest in the international market. India gives him sufficient business; in fact they can barely meet the demand here! He participates in the Wills India Fashion Week and Lakme Fashion Week and calls the rest impostors. Wendell’s flagship stores are ‘Wendell Rodricks Design Space in Campal, Panjim Goa’ and ‘Wendell Rodricks Made in Goa at Goa Marriott’, while he also retails from various other stores across the country.