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Wendell’s fashion
Wendell with Lisha at Ekru

A mundane Monday evening turned fashionably fabulous when style guru Wendell Rodricks breezed through town to talk fashion and more at Fashion on a Platter, held by Ekru in association with t2, at the Bhowanipore design store.

Around 40 guests browsed through the Goa-based designer’s latest collection, Fash Splash, and mingled with the man who redefined minimalism in Indian fashion. Peppered with flashbacks and trivia, the next 60 minutes were full of ‘oohs’, ‘aaahs’ and laughs as Wendell took us through what made him the designer he is today.

Model Lisha Sharma was only too happy to slip into her favourite designer’s creation. “I love his garments and knowing that each has a story behind it makes it all the more special. I feel proud when I am in Wendell!”

things we learnt

He’s modest and extremely down-to-earth. When Rita Bhimani introduced Wendell to the crowd, he dimpled and said: “Each time someone introduces me, I feel they are talking about someone else.”

In 1995 he was the first designer to showcase overseas. He showed Goan sarongs!

Wendell was once inspired by a loin cloth. “I saw this picture of African men walking around in loin cloths — a small curtain-like drape covering the private parts in front, while the back was bare. It inspired a collection and believe it or not the garments sold! Of course, with alterations — clients requested attached tights to cover their backside!” he laughs.

Had it not been for Wendell, Bollywood would have been deprived of Deepika Padukone. “I spotted her in a mall in Bangalore. Fashion week was around the corner and I fought with Tarun (Tahiliani) and JJ (Valaya) to make her walk. A few months later, I suggested her name to Farah Khan who was looking for a face opposite SRK in Om Shanti Om.”

He is also an environment crusader. Once when Sonia Gandhi was in Goa, he created a stir with an impromptu fashion show where Deepika Padukone walked the ramp in a black lycra bodycon with garbage bags attached to her body to address the garbage issue. The result? “The issue is still on but we did provide temporary relief!”

He is an ardent gardener and gardens every Sunday.

quick takes with wendell

1 The key to your success?

Hard work, God-gifted creativity and the ability to sustain in an industry that demands change.

2 The change in fashion in the past two decades? First that design has become an industry! The emergence of fashion weeks — it has given us designers recognition. The entry of foreign magazines, though I think they should concentrate more on Indian fashion and upcoming designers. We also need more models on the cover, enough of Bollywood!

3 Your thoughts on your book The Green Room?

It was the most romantic thing I have ever written. Some parts of the book are funny and they completely relate to me.

4 What’s next on your fashion platter?

I plan to teach in a design college in America — educate students on the fashion of cutting. I want to write more books, revive the technique of weaving in Goan colleges and later open an institute. More importantly, as a member of the Fashion Design Council of India, I want to standardise the Indian sizing system — there is no uniformity.

5 What’s on your things-to-do list in Calcutta?

Eat, eat and eat some more! I love fish and mishti doi. I love meeting new people here. And I am longing to make a trip to The Marble Palace.

Jyotica Ramchandani
Pictures: Rashbehari Das