Wendell Rodricks recalls his debut when six pairs of trousers almost played havoc and budget limits sent models barefoot

It was a nightmare, but not at Elm Street. As part of a broader canvas for the store Glitterati, my first show constituted a tryst with chaos and worry. Held in 1991 at The Oberoi, Mumbai, the occasion incorporated seven designers, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla to name two, and was choreographed by Hemant Trivedi. I waited for it to get over even before it could start.

Crafted as a tribute to Issey Miyake, the leading Japanese designer, my collection showcased 12 tunic tops and two saris. While the apparels were organza-based, white silk tunics had exquisite hand-painted tribal patterns from India. The saris were immaculately hand-painted and adorned with African tribal motifs.

I did not interfere much with choreography. The music score was distinctly fusion and without any words, which gave an instrumental backdrop to the event.

What created a ridiculous situation were the six indispensable trousers in my ensemble. The strategy, therefore, was to send the first six models, donning the trousers and tops, while others lingered close to the wings and backstage to get the trousers off those models and prepare themselves for the ramp. Atul Kasbekar, otherwise quite wooden, walked the ramp for the first time and, evidently, in my first show. It was such a nail-biting finish.

I had no budget for shoes too. The solution was rather earthly; the models went barefoot.

But I am glad it conveyed a message in cue with my ideology of minimalism and highlighted my signature style exuding the natural and pure. Happening in the spirit of the moment, the collection was greatly admired, quite contrary to my own expectations. Kavita Khanna, wife of Vinod Khanna, was one of my early buyers post-show at the Glitterati store.

Media coverage being scarce back then, it was encouraging to hear from my mother, a couple of days later, about full page coverage of the show and my creative attempts. With few newspapers in the block vouching for fashion, I regarded this as an achievement and a boost for firmly grounding myself in India.

It was both easy and difficult to seize an opportunity for making your brand a hit in the markets. But having forwarded my ideas well, and belonging to a group of pioneers, like Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla, armed with talent and a foreign degree, I found it easier to break in.

My cherished dream is to be a designer and profusely teach and write about fashion. Through my training institute in Goa, the place to which I belong and to which I commit my success and happiness, I aim at reviving the Goan weaving tradition.

I have endeavoured to diffuse the charm of the beach city and to crystallize its beautiful and calm essences. The future will come as it happens, and I will dress that up too.

AS TOLD TO DISHA POKHRIYAL