My mother named me well : Wendell Rodricks
Wendell Rodricks, the blue eyed boy of the fashion world, feels he is at the right space and place at the right time. With his autobiographical book just hitting the bookstores, he shares with people his life in a Mumbai chawl, foray into the fashion world and his sexuality. TWF correspondent Barshali Banerjee unplugged the designer at the launch of his book The Green Room in Kolkata. Excerpts:
What is your book The Green Room all about?
As this is an autobiography it is a sketch of my own life starting from my childhood to my college days and definitely about my present journey, where I am standing right now. Being a part of the fashion world for near about 25 years, I have seen so many ups and downs in the industry. In my book you will get through a journey of the glitz and glamour of the enchanting fashion world and also growing up in a Bombay chawl how my life took a big turn.
You are basically from Goa, then why you shifted to Bombay (Mumbai)?
Though I was from Goa, I grew up in a chawl of Bombay. My parents were young lovers and they had a big mansion in Goa before they came to Bombay. They tried for accommodation, but found a 'glorified Bombay chawl' for a better world. So my life started from that place.
When did you decide to be a fashion designer?
No, it was not a matter of decision taken in one fine morning. I developed my sense of style since the childhood. May be I was 7 or 8 years old then. I liked getting things in order and still I remember one incident when my father asked to paint the wall with blue and I argued that in one wall there would be blue and another would be ivory. So, in that way I grew my love for colours and stylization.
But when did you realize your passion for fashion designing?
I was really very passionate to know how people get dressed, even I can recall I used to help my family to get dressed, even designed for them. My mother was delighted when I got high marks in Biology in H.S.E and wanted me to be doctor or a dentist. But I said a big No. So I joined the catering and hospitality industry as it was very glamorous to me and I loved the decor and red carpets too. I started my career as a catering graduate at a police club in Oman. As I said when I was at the chawl in Bombay which comprised of one kitchen, one room, a veranda and a public toilet to use, I saw my parents suffered a lot. So I decided to put an end to it and get out of that world.
What is fashion to you?
Oh it is the easiest technical question for me that I teach my students. Fashion is something that is followed by a group of people at a particular time and space in case of clothes, accessories and hairstyles. But we should not mingle it up with style. Style is a sense that is developed by ownself.
Do you think Indian people are much eager to follow Western fashion than Indian origin trends?
No, I do not feel it. It varies actually and depends on different places of India.
Starting from the 90's, still Wendell Rodricks is a benchmark in the Fashion World. How will you explain it?
I think my mother named me well. She decided the name Wendell, which means 'Wondra' and that is wonderful in English.
Which female model you like the most?
My answer would be Malaika Arora Khan, who is on the cover page of my book The Green Room.
So, you were always very open about your relationship status. Was it ever problematic for your family to accept you as a gay man?
I guess no. There was always the support from my family when I needed. My partner Jerome is like my parent's fifth son and they loved us both.
Indian women in saree or Indian women in Western outfits?
The answer would be definitely Indian women in saree.
Images: Akash Goswami