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‘Ah, I'm a villager at heart'

Designer Wendell Rodericks talks to Nisha Kundnani about fashion, philosophy and life in an isolated village in Goa.

india Updated: Sep 25, 2007 13:22 IST
Nisha Kundnani
Nisha Kundnani
Hindustan Times

He hails from a village in Goa, but designer Wendell Rodericks has stormed the fashion world in his own right. He talks to Nisha Kundnani about fashion, philosophy and life in an isolated village in Goa.

How's your preparation for the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week going?
So far, so smooth. I've added a few Indian garments to the collection that I recently showed at Paris Prêt-à-Porter. It's not a very ‘Indian' line.. it's very me with flowy geometrically cut garments.

There are saris and kurtas too. My style is not dhinchak and colourful. It's a collection which is spiritually inclined. I've used yoga as an inspiration for this line.

Yoga? Hello, come again?
<b1>Oh, yes, I'm heavily into it. I take my yoga quite seriously I'm also a vegetarian and don't eat meat.

Tell me more about the presentation of your show in Paris.
It was difficult getting things organised. I was the only person who had to look after everything. I did not use props and theatrics.

The audio was of prime importance.. I used Om chants as the music. It was a task to find marigold flowers in Paris as it's an Indian flower. An Indian friend had them in his garden.. till the last minute we didn't know if would be able to get them.

It was Paris a few weeks ago. Now you're heading to New York for a show. Then you'll be back to Mumbai again. Doesn't constant travelling overload you?
Now is the time to actually work. How can I get fatigued?

What about business? Did Paris open up any avenues for you?
See, I went there with no expectations. I had heard from people that in Paris, the audience is usually cold towards unknown faces.

They only see they hardly ever applaud. It wasn't easy to show 41 garments only in one colour. After the show I've had many enquiries. I have an agent who is setting up the deals for me and things are looking positive.

I know my clothes will work for resort places like Miami.

Why are you so fixed about white? Don't you feel like using other colours?
For me it's a true representation of being Indian.. it's an emotion. The kind of cuts I do go best with whites.

<b2>My calling card is cuts.. to show new styles I only go by white and use it unapologetically. Also it's the colour of South India and represents calmness.

You're also repetitive with biased cuts and origami. Don't you feel like trying out something new?
That's a catch-22 situation. Why should I deviate from the path I have taken all these years? In this country, every designer is obsessed about embroideries and bling.

Take that away from a garment and you won't have anything left. I have been doing this since 1989 and for every new show I experiment with new cuts. There is a newness in my work.. it shows in the cuts.

But I don't change my philosophy of minimalism. It's not possible to change that and it's not in my system to do regular run-of-the-mill clothes.

Those cuts can only dress up models. It's believed that an average Indian woman cannot wear your clothes.
(Laughs) Ha ha. No one actually bothered to ask me about my audience. But it's important for people to know that 80% of the women I dress have an average body type.

I may use Malaika Arora Khan as my model to show what I do. But I make those clothes in large and extra large sizes too.

And who says those cuts don't work for them? They are smartly constructed clothes. Some of these garments can actually make women look slim.

So, do you also claim that you do more business overseas than in India?
Ha ha ha. Oh, I'm no fool to do that. I hardly do business outside India. Ninety five percent of my business comes from the domestic market in India.

I know a lot of designers use the overseas tag to make their profile.

You give enormous attention to your portfolio pictures. Do you have a special fondness for photography?
I am control freak about pictures of my brand. My friend Farrokh Chotia once told me that fashion imaging sticks like glue.

I'm particular about that because I want to show my style and philosophy I'm not like other designers who give a damn about pictures and are okay about their old collection pictures being published.

You live in isolated Colvale village in Goa. Do you miss the hustle and bustle of a city life?
I love to live like a villager. It keeps me firmly anchored in reality. Having said that, I don't want to give out the impression that I live like a monk. I live like any common man.

Don't the surroundings inspire your design philosophy?
Yes, Goa does give me inspiration to design clothes. I have passed up the chance to live in New York and Paris. Goa is the crossroads of international travel. I meet interesting people and can do exciting things here too.

First Published: Sep 25, 2007 12:16 IST