Wendell Rodricks Looks Back On A Fashionable Life
In his new memoir The Green Room, Wendell Rodricks describes his charmed life that began in a middle-class Goan Catholic home in Mahim and eventually reached the heights of success in the Indian fashion firmament. Along the way, the designer has had exotic holidays with enviable frequency—the French Riviera one summer, a cruise down the Nile the next—and revived interest in little-known traditional Goan clothes. Few outside Goa had heard of the sari of the Kunbi community, which Rodricks used in one of his shows, or the pano bhaju, an outfit of a pleated skirt and a long blouse, before he wrote about it in Moda Goa, his book on Goan clothing that was published in January. In an email interview, Rodricks, who lives in Colvale, his paternal village in Goa, said that he wished the current lot of fashion journalists could actually write.
You’ve talked about the ugly side of the fashion industry. Has the book made you any enemies?
I did not talk about the ugly side of the business. There are only two incidents [involving the split between the Fashion Design Council of India and Lakmé that led to the formation of two fashion weeks.] the From the onset, I was very clear that I wrote truthfully and without malice. I have made no enemies. On the contrary, I have made new friends and fans. Each day, I receive mails from unknown people [about] how much they liked the book. I will not thrash an industry that I love. Fashion is my life…and it is a beautiful world. A real world where beauty and business come together.
How have international fashion magazines changed the Indian fashion industry?
The quality of other magazines improved ever since Elle entered the scene. L’Officiel followed and then came Vogue. I wish all magazines would show more Indian clothes for the real woman on the street.
What do you think of the current crop of fashion journalists? How would you compare them to Meher Castelino and Sathya Saran, who you’ve described as stalwarts in the book?
After Sathya Saran and Meher Castelino, Namrata Zakaria included, I am still waiting to meet a new fashion journalist who can WRITE (capitals are Rodricks’s). Most of the so-called fashion editors feel it is their job to style shoots and show garments via photographs. That is not a fashion journalist.
Sorpotel or vindaloo?
Both. That is like asking a Bengali to choose between rasgulla and mishti doi. But on a Goan buffet spread, if there was a spicy tangy shark amotik, I would settle for that over the vindaloo and sorpotel. It is my favourite Goan dish!
You haven’t really dealt with coming out to your family and friends. Why is that?
I did. Unlike other gay men, there was no need to come out with family or friends. I was open from the onset. In a natural way, they accepted the way I am. Everyone in my family, friends and industry saw who I was with. It was not some phantom list of one-night stands. My persona is not about sex but about celebrating a wonderful love. I have always been a romantic and dreamt of living with one person for a lifetime. I was lucky…my dream came true.
What do you miss about Mumbai?
The people and the food. And the adrenaline. But I can take it for four days maximum. At Lakme Fashion Week due to the fact that I had a show and The Green Room release to do, I was stuck for nine days. By day four I began to fret..missing my garden, pets and Goa.
Pano bhaju or Kunbi sari?
Kunbi sari. It is wearable every day. The pano bhaju has a nice history but it is for the elite when they dance the mando.
Where are you holidaying next?
We are going on a month’s cruise from Cape Town to Dakar. West Africa is a part of the world we have not explored. And since it is a small ship we get to go into the backwaters of the Ivory Coast and many places. I am so looking forward to a jet ride over Namibia.
The Green Room by Wendell Rodricks, Rupa, Rs595. Buy it from Flipkart.com.Tags: Books, Fashion, The Green Room, Wendell Rodricks