Ace designer Wendell Rodricks has gone beyond designing and has chronicled the costume legacy of his birthplace, Goa in the coffee table book named Moda Goa. Ruchika Kher chats up with the master storyteller
Moda Goa isn't your average book about Goa. It is a collection of photographs and information that documents the unique history of Goan costume, written by a Goan in heart and spirit.
Designer Wendell Rodricks readies to take a bow for one of his shows
Moda Goa is an ode to all things Goa. It took Wendell over a decade to complete the book, but the designer, who had to learn Portuguese and also intern at the National Costume Museum in Lisbon and New York FIT Museum for better understanding of costumes is elated that his effort is finally bearing fruit.
"I discovered that there were few around who knew of Goan costumes and its history - neither the Goans, nor people from the rest of India. So I felt the need to work on a comprehensive archive to put together and, I began to research," says Wendell, who took the help of photographer Mark Sequeira for the book.
In Moda Goa, Wendell brings forward the factors that shaped Goa's distinct garment style. From Buddhist drapes that carried forward the elaborate style of later Hindu costume to the fine brocade coats of the Muslim Tughlaq rulers; from the Portuguese invaders, who had to improvise their traditional Renaissance dress to suit the hot Konkan climate to the Western style dresses of the newly converted Goan Catholics, Goan costumes varied from time to time owing to the cultures that touched their land.
"I think the maximum impact was of the Portuguese because they tried to take away every part of Indian-ness from us. They aggressively assured that we did not have any links with our past and culture. So that reflects a lot in the clothing," he informs.
The designer has also focused on the jewellery of the state, from the earlier era to the present day. "People knew that I was researching, so they would tell me about the jewellery and provide me with information. I also had to go and sit with jewelers there because there was very little information available," he says.
Bollywood actress Rekha at the Taj Lands End will launch the coffee table book today. Although the designer refrained from giving out the exact reason for roping in the yesteryear beauty for the event, he specified, "I am not having the person there for sensationalism. It's just that there is a connect, which we will explain at the event."
Even before the launch of his debut book, Wendell has already begun work on his next, which is an autobiography. "I have signed the contract and the book will be out later this year. It is the story of my life," he concludes.
Moda Goa, compiled by Wendell Rodricks, by HarperCollins, Rs 3,999. The book will be released today.