Every influential designer has a “you-have-arrived” moment. For Wendell Rodricks, it happened in 1999 when Parmeshwar Godrej wore his hand-painted white crepe saree at a private dinner. “But, she took it a notch up by wearing it without a blouse, and just like that, she made it her own,” recalls the Goa-based designer.

Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Ambani paid their respects to Adi Godrej. Pic/Atul Kamble
Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Ambani paid their respects to Adi Godrej. Pic/Atul Kamble

In Parmeshwar’s passing away, he sees the going away of a giant style icon. She didn’t just understand style, she created her own, he says.

“It’s not considered appropriate to wear a beret at an evening party, but she followed her own code of conduct,” he says of the headgear she often donned, and one that became as much a part of her image as the over-sized sunglasses.

Wendell RodricksWendell Rodricks

And she was more than willing to share a tip. According to Wendell, Parmeshwar kept a black book of contacts with everyone’s details, from the beautician to the Botox cosmetician. “She was unapologetic about embracing cosmetic technology to look a certain way,” he says.

The ultimate society host, her iconic soirees would sustain chatter for months. Imran Khan, Goldie Hawn, Naomi Campbell, and most recently, talk show queen Oprah Winfrey enjoyed her impeccable hospitality when they visited Mumbai. “In a way, her address became the temple of style.”

Unlike other society high dames, Wendell says, she stood her ground. “She was the definitive scandalous, sexy, style icon.”

'Parmeshwar had grace in abundance'
“Parmeshwar had grace in abundance; she is gone too soon. I met her first in 1999 at my debut show for Reverie boutique. She arrived with Naomi Campbell. When high-flying wives were dripping in diamonds, she’d wear one statement piece. So, in a way, she set the bar for A-lister wife fashion. I’d go as far to say, she was Mumbai’s original fashion icon. She was also very spiritual.

Manish Malhotra
Manish Malhotra

Each time she’d go home to Patiala, she’d pay her respects at her favourite gurudwara. The world saw the public side to this spirituality in the philanthropy she did, including the Heroes project for which she teamed up with Richard Gere to spread AIDS awareness. I worked with her on fashion shows for the project. We had an intimate relationship. We’d often discuss Hindi films; Karan Johar’s productions were a favourite, and she’d have very sharp observations about the style of top actors.”