Wendell Rodricks is a brand name with an iconic status in the Indian Fashion industry. He is a pioneer in his own space in more than one ways. While most of us know him as a fashion designer, in his memoirs he comes across as a multi-faceted person. A voracious traveler, deriving inspirations from his travels for his collections. A shrewd businessman, an openly gay celebrity in India and a true son of the soil who not only put Goa on the fashion map of India. But also works actively towards making it a more livable place. I love multi-faceted people – people who can wear many hats because not only they have many dimensions to them. But they also derive from one field of interest to another, creating new lines between distinct disciplines.
Prime occupation of Rodricks demands creativity and it is a good to see him juggling things that feed his creativity.
In an ultra chronological order Wendell traces the history of his family from the days they were Hindu Kshatriyas from the Goan region to his birth and growing up in Mumbai, to his working in Muscat and meeting the love of his life Jerome – A French Man, to his going to design school in the USA. Teaching at a design school in Mumbai and then his working with various labels in the country to launching his own in Goa. In between, there are innumerable travels that he takes along with his partner Jerome including the short breaks to spend time with him in the city of his work that keeps moving across the globe. As a traveler, I envied him every time he speaks about a new place, a long cruise or an experience that I am yet to have.
As a designer, I only get to see the journey of his resume. I would have like to get some insight into how the designs occur to him. How an inspiration translates into a design. After reading the whole book I do not know the difference between a prêt and couture. I know there is always a Google, but then a designer of his standing could give a deeper understanding of the same. Maybe he assumes only the people who understand those terms would read his book. And not fashion failures like me. I only got to read about his various collections. And how much and how fast they sold. I did not get an understanding of what went into that collection from a creative as well as business perspective.
I am sure that he is as smart a businessman, as he is a creative designer. And somewhere it is the blend of both that would have worked for him. Even that aspect got missed. He does try to give a back room scene of the fashion industry. Like how bad the green rooms are, how unreal the people and pictures are. And how much politics goes into the making of celebrated fashion weeks. But the information is more clinical than insightful. He started a fashion website. And if it had worked he would have been a pioneer in that space. But he again mentions it in passing only. Going by the title, I expected lot more backroom insights into the fashion world.
I picked up this book The Green Room, to read as soon as I landed in Goa to make it my next home. And I wanted to read about the place. As an introduction to Goa – its history and culture – it is a perfect book to read. The author is in love with the place, especially his village Colvale that I figured out lies in the North East of the state of Goa. He talks about all the prominent places in Goa as he recalls his various shows, parties, and get-togethers. He takes you through the life of a Goan including what they do for weddings and funerals. And he talks about all his favorites places in Goa and his secret hideouts where he takes out his celebrity friends.
Having a written a book on Goan costumes (that I hope to read sometime during my stay in Goa) he talks passionately about the Kunbi Sari that he revived. I am keen to see this Sari as well. Goa is the best aspect of this book The Green Room.
There are some loose ends like despite his long relationship with Jerome, his family distancing themselves from their formal union – may be he chose to not talk about it publicly or maybe he was restricted by the space available. But I guess it would have been an insight into how to deal with a family you love but who is not willing to take a social beating for your happiness. He obviously engages media very well for all his work. But the only insight he shared was that pre-publicity works better than post publicity.
I got a feeling that he maintained a daily diary. And he wove this book The Green Room by picking up entries from that diary. Otherwise, it seems almost impossible to be able to recall so many names with the correct date, time and place. Too much of chronology, too much of dinner and parties and too many names took away the soul of what could have been an absolute delight to read. Nonetheless, this is my initiation guide into living in Goa, so I am going to cherish it.
Read The Green Room, if Fashion and Goa interest you.