At Hotel Mountview in Chandigarh on Sunday to showcase his collection in the ongoing Blenders Pride Fashion Tour 2013, designer Wendell Rodricks was his usual honest self. It’s almost amusing how Rodricks’ relationship with Bollywood is love-hate. Despite being credited for spotting models who went on to become top names — Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma to name a few — the Goa-based designer is happier staying away from films and working on his label.
“Spotting Deepika Padukone in a mall and Anushka Sharma in a Wrangler showroom in Bengaluru and bringing them to Mumbai is nothing great. I saw their potential in being models, sent them to Bollywood and then didn’t care what happens to them. That is another world and it’s a life I don’t enjoy. They are so beautiful that someone would have discovered them if I hadn’t,” he says simply. However, Rodricks remains on the friend list of most celebs. “I’m not one who’ll say they are looking beautiful or pamper their egos. If they are looking bad, I’ll say it to them on their faces. So, I might be their favourite outside the film world, but not in it,” he smiles.
Specialising in resort wear, minimalism and eco-friendly fashion, the designer says he doesn’t bother about trends. “Indians shouldn’t bother about trends,” he admonishes, adding, “Indian men and women are wise and wear what suits them. If foreigners say purple is in fashion and the colour doesn’t suit you, does it make sense in wearing it? If minis are in fashion and you don’t have the legs to sport them, what’s the point in wearing them?” he asks.
Apart from his steller designs, Rodricks is also known for the two books he authored — Moda Goa: History and Style and The Green Room, which is an autobiographical account of his rise in the fashion industry. The designer seems to have taken a fancy to writing, revealing he is coming up with two more books. “One is a collection of short stories and the other is a history of Goa for children. I’ve finished writing the latter and only its illustration is left, which I want to do. Vasco da Gama and all others mentioned in the book will appear in a cute manner for children,” he tells us. The collection of short stories is ‘faction’, says Rodricks, explaining that they are based on facts but infused with fiction.
How does he take the time out to write? “I usually wake up at five and if I have to write, I wake up at four. But, designing clothes is my first love,” he says.
“My collection, called Red, Haute and Blue is a ‘musical’ tribute to Cole Porter [American composer and songwriter]. In keeping with the theme, the models won’t walk down the ramp but dance. My collection radiates youthfulness and uses pop colours such as neon green, peacock blue and hot pink. It’s a new experience for me too!”
Master of many moods
There are times when bling or flamboyance doesn’t succeed in luring your heart and you want to settle for something subtle. Similarly, ditching films and choosing to work on his brand was a conscious decision for fashion designer Vikram Phadnis, who is famous for the numerous Bollywood actors he designs costumes for and admits to being ‘indebted’ to the industry in many ways.
No longer in the mood to balance designing for films and his brand, Phadnis says he can’t do justice to both simultaneously. “In 2014, my brand would be 20 years old.
I had to take a conscious call on what I want to do and I can proudly say that now I want to concentrate only on my fashion house. To get people to wear my clothes, I can’t work for fashion weeks alone. I have to sell clothes too,” he exclaims.
With his creations being worn by Bollywood stars such as Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Malaika Arora Khan, the designer says he doesn’t deny that they helped him position his brand in the top league. “Whatever I am today is because of the film industry. My brand would not have been what it is had these actors not promoted it. There are so many more talented designers who don’t get the platform to showcase their talent. In that sense, I was very lucky,” he says.
Two decades old in the Indian fashion industry, Phadnis, who specialises in bridal wear, claims he always broke stereotypes. “White is considered inauspicious for marriages, but I created white lehngas. Even in fashion weeks, the danger of being ripped apart by the media didn’t stop me from designing lehngas in black. Similarly, when palazzos weren’t in vogue, I was using them. And now that they are in fashion, I have washed my hands off them.
So, I’m a moody person. I give my clients bling, followed by a season of subtlety and they like both. People will accept your work if they like your fashion aesthetics. But, you have to at least give it to them,” he says.
Trashing talk of forecasting trends, Phadnis says he has something specific in mind when he designs for the ramp or for films, irrespective of what will be the trend. “When I create
costumes for a film, I don’t think of setting trends. I just ensure that whatever I’m designing isn’t already in surplus in the market,” he explains.
In the same vein, Phadnis has no target clientele either. “I work on collections without thinking who they will cater to. Some of my best shows have been in Chandigarh, but I have never targeted any place—not even Mumbai or Delhi. My brand is affordable and spread throughout the country. But, if one starts thinking of targeting an area, it affects the collection.”
On plans of entering the Punjab market, Phadnis says he isn’t game to let out to a franchise. “For me, personal connect is more important,” he signs off.
“My collection focuses on the magic of the night. The entire collection is about what excites me in the night — a night that is mysterious, magical and sensuous. It is a simple diffusion line with no heavy bridals. There are a few Indian pieces and some fusion wear. The colours used are black, gold, beige, cream and dark maroon, with a hint of embellishment on every garment.”