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'No star has the guts to wear my showstopper'

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

The Guru of Minimalism is back and this time he invokes the Earth Goddess through his collection at Kolkata Fashion Week (KFW) II. India Blooms catches up with ace designer Wendell Rodricks after his show

What is so special about your Earth Goddess collection?
This is the result of seven years of working with the tribals from the foothills of the Amboli Ghats bordering Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Using the forest trees for firewood, the tribals unconsciously deforested the area. The animals vanished with the greenery. The wood smoke resulted in eye and asthmatic problems for the tribals. To halt this destruction, an NGO began to distribute free gas for cooking and encouraged the villagers to plant saplings which could be harvested for natural dye. One-third of the leaves and bark of the shrubs and trees are harvested thrice a year to create natural dyes.

A noble cause

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

After this seven-year effort, we are ecstatic at the results. The tribals have no eye or breathing problems. The forest is back. As are the animals who returned to the foliage cover. The dye vats (which used to be toxic or synthetic dyes) are fertiliser rich and help regenerate the soil at our field near the dying unit. Farmers, who were earlier skeptical about the vat contents with its coloured mix, now request the same dying programme for their villages. By wearing these clothes you are helping realise the dreams of the tribals and providing them with a livelihood.

Natural hues

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

What are the fabrics that were treated in this natural dye?
In this 40-piece collection, coarse handspun cotton, viscose jersey and silk garments are treated to the colours of nature-guava leaf, pomegranate, rice konji, local plants and indigo. The palette it just like being with Mother Nature. Besides, the dyes are machine washable, UV light resistant and anti-bacterial. All these qualities result in clothes that feel completely natural on the skin.

Colour cues

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

You have used a dull colour palette...
Yes, that's because of the theme. We have used varied hues like chalk white, olive, dark green, pale grey, dusty earth and khaki to go with the wrap cuts.

Off the shelf

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

Are your clothes affordable?
The cotton garments are available from Rs 1,700 onwards. I think a Wendell Rodricks creation for just Rs 1,700 is very cheap. This Eco Goa collection too will be available at select Westside stores India, end-September onwards.

Famous names are a waste

Last updated on: September 10, 2009 

You were one of the first designers to introduce the concept of star showstoppers. But now you don't have any stars walk the ramp for you. Why is that?
See, when Malaika Arora Khan showstopped for me for Fashion Democracy, there was no concept of star was not a conscious effort. She was selected because she fitted the need of the day. I have always believed and still believe that it's professional models who can do justice to your clothes. Getting famous names is a waste, it distracts attention from the clothes to the wearer -- such a concept doesn't talk about clothes. And trust me, no star showstopper has the guts to wear the Goddess gown that my model wore; it needs a perfect body and professionalism.