Wendell Rodricks talks about his passion for writing, as a run-up to his participation in The Hindu Lit for Life fest, where he will discuss his book The Green Room, at a session in Chennai on Saturday
The man who made minimalism, monochromatic tones and the mussel top famous in the Indian fashion circuit is in Chennai. But for a change, he will not get into his Issey Miyake-inspired debut collection, the languid Brazilian lounge music-influenced Bossa Nova, or the organic fabrics with which he created structural marvels on the ramp. Instead, he will talk about how he wove simple words into passionate prose in his tell-all book The Green Room.
Wendell Rodricks, who commanded for Goa a significant spot in the country’s style map, will participate in The Hindu’s Lit for Life literary festival. At a session tomorrow, at 10 a.m., the designer-writer will discuss his memoir with Ranvir Shah. “There’s more to come, I assure you,” says the designer about his tryst with the pen. “While my first major work Moda Goa: History and Style involved eleven years of intensive research, The Green Room depended on ready referrals that I had. I’ve maintained an agenda for the last 30 years. I have photo albums as well for that period. But having said that, it did take an awful lot of soul-searching and memory jogging to write The Green Room. I truly love writing…”
The memoir that traces Wendell’s ascent as a designer (after he left the hospitality industry) is also a loose chronology of the evolution of the Indian fashion scene. “There is a lot in the book. Glamour and glory, chaos and calm, raw nerves and ramp realities…” says the designer, who has reinvented the frontiers of style and sensuality in clothing. But it must have been a tightrope walk between candid confessions and thoughtful restraint. “Not really. From the outset, I decided the parameters — to write truthfully and stay the course with my life. I was not interested in getting into other people’s personal lives or gossip for that matter. I’m not a sensationalist!”
Essentially, there are three threads that run through The Green Room — Wendell’s personal journey, his progress as a designer seeking a distinct idiom and finally, Wendell the wanderlust guy to whom life is about exploring new destinations. “Personally, the romantic journey was the most inspiring. My professional journey is a key example for the next generation of designers and professionals. As for the travel and food-related portions, they were written out of sheer passion. But each part is integral to the whole.”
Unlike Moda Goa that dealt with the history and mystique of Goan clothes traditions, The Green Room is about Wendell and the people who shaped his life. Despite being fearless in tone and honest in content, the style savant surprisingly didn’t make enemies after the book’s release. “I did not defame anyone. So in that lieu, I think more people want to be in The Green Room 2! As for the fashion fraternity, I got tremendous positive feedback. People loved the book. It was after all a lesson in courage, success and a celebration of the style world.”
Though the Indian fashion industry is making rapid strides, sadly not many are keen on documenting history for posterity. Barring a few designers, not many actually preserve their work in a way that it will be useful to people studying/researching fashion. “True, but I can’t speak for anyone else. Designers must realise that documenting their work is vital for themselves and their profession.”
Much of the book’s personal and engaging accounts come from the travel portions in which the designer gets lyrical. “Travel is a big part of my life. Of the 190-odd countries in the United Nations, I’ve seen 158! That should give a perspective to my love for travel and discovery. My travels have inspired a range of collections as well. The Turkish Harem, Bossa Nova to the recent Ocean Orient… they are all experiences from journeys translated into ramp moments. A travelogue is in the pipeline. The writing bug will bite for sure.”
Sticking to minimalism Has been easy for me because ayurveda, yoga, temples and eco-friendly textiles have been at the core of my philosophy. I will not trade minimalism for anything at any stage in my career.
What endures Passion for one’s craft, talent and the ability to translate personal culture into an international ramp message.
The trio No one can do Goa better than me. No one can showcase Kolkata like Sabyasachi Mukherjee and no one can celebrate Kashmir like Rohit Bal.
In a fickle world Only change remains constant. And fashion considers itself so fickle that it needs to change every season!