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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fashion’s vision

Wendell Rodricks’ championing of minimalism helped take the idea of fashion out of the closets of the rich and famous

By: Editorial |
Updated: February 14, 2020 11:38:42 am
Fashion’s vision When Wendell Rodricks launched his label in 1989, it was in an industry that was weighed down by heavy embroidery and other ornamentation.

It mattered that Wendell Rodricks introduced minimalism to Indian fashion. When the Goan designer launched his label in 1989, it was in an industry that was weighed down by heavy embroidery and other ornamentation. Those first organza tunics seemed so alien to Indian fashion sensibilities that it wasn’t until a few years later that he was finally able to establish a new aesthetic and idiom, one that would inspire the generations that came after him.

But that isn’t why Rodricks’ championing of minimalism matters. More than anything else, when Rodricks sent out collection after pared-down collection — whether in his favourite white or in bright neon shades, whether made of linen or pineapple fibre — he was also opening up Indian fashion to a whole new philosophy that didn’t equate India’s rich textile and fashion history with the over-the-top aesthetics of a long-gone aristocracy. To put it simply, he took the idea of fashion out of the closets of the rich and famous, and made it the legacy and inheritance of a wider swathe of the population.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise when, about a decade ago, he got involved with conserving and reviving Goa’s Kunbi weave. The Kunbi saris that he showed as part of his Spring/Summer collection in 2014 were light, breezy and utterly modern, but their roots in the garment once worn by women of Goa’s tribal Kunbi community was loudly and proudly proclaimed by Rodricks himself. It’s hard to imagine anyone else having the courage and the vision to declare that these red-and-white chequered saris, worn by women as they waded through flooded paddy fields, are also part of a shared history.

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