20 years on, being gay will be a non-issue: Wendell Rodricks

The cover of designer Wendell Rodricks’ autobiography, Green Room, published this week

New Delhi: Twenty years on, being gay will be a non-issue, says Indian fashion guru Wendell Rodricks, who wants people to look at gay relationship as a celebration of love, not sex.

“India has opened up a lot… For films like ‘Dostaana’ to be made. Twenty years on, it will be a non-issue. Mothers will be talking about accepting their children’s alternative sexuality,” Rodricks says in his just-released autobiography “The Green Room” (Rupa Raintree)

Rodricks describes the book as a “truthful first-person account of my life, gay sexuality and life in the industry that reads more like a travelogue than a personal chronicle”.

It is rich in details with the colours, sights and histories of exotic places in Europe and Asia that he travelled with companions, food that he has eaten and the people who have inhabited his creative life.

“I speak very openly about what it is to be a gay man… But I did not want it to be a tell-all. The best relationship in my life is the one I am having just now. We (and his boyfriend) have lived for 30 years…,” Rodricks said.

“My women friends ask me how did you manage to stay together for 30 years. I just had the honesty to live with him. There’s one thing I want to say: it is that people look at the sexual element in gay love, but for me it is a celebration of love,” the pioneer of minimal fashion in the country said.

At the same time, when one is wealthy and famous one gets a different treatment in gay relationships, he says.

The designer says men’s fashion is changing in India after the metrosexual phase when there were more beauty parlours for men.

“I would like to make them celebrate a look that is Indian in spirit, but is wearable and practical. It is just disgraceful that in countries like India, we have been throwing away Indian clothings in exchange of western clothes,” Rodricks said.

The designer, who moved to his native village Colvale in 1993 after trotting the globe with his creations, has been advocating heritage clothes.

His ideal menswear is “kurta shirt or a kurta”.

“They look less stuffy and idiotic than wearing a culture that is not one’s own. I wear a ‘lungi (traditional Indian drape) to cocktails and during fashion week. It is a celebration of your culture,” Rodricks said.

The fashion awareness in India should be a top-down process, the designer believes.

“The boss at work should wear clothes that are Indian. It breaks barriers about clothes in the organisation. If the boss comes dressed like a penguin, then everybody will want to do the same,” Rodricks said.

The designer, who put Goa on the couture map with the last book, “Moda Goa”, has a new mission: he is planning to unleash a campaign to secure industry status for the fashion fraternity as a board member of the Fashion Design Council of India.

Rodricks also identifies three trends that have influenced Indian sartorial history post-Independence.

“The first is the emergence of the multi-designer boutique that changed the way people began to dress. The second was the establishment of the fashion weeks which made the designers more disciplined to show their creations two to three times a year. The third is designers now know that fashion is for wearibility and based on a solid business plan,” said Rodricks in an informal chat.

Then, there is the way people now look at fashion as a user-friendly idea. “Ten years ago, many people went and bought ‘kapda (cloth)’ to make clothes. Now that has dwindled to a low percentage. This phenomenon of ready-to-wear has influenced the entire country. Even people from the older generation have stopped going to the local ‘darzi’ (tailor)’. They are buying clothes,” he says.

The local ‘darzi’ is no longer an independent fashion entrepreneur but “works in a factory in an alternative position in the same industry,” the designer says.

By Madhusree Chatterjee/IANS

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