Dual Inspirations


Dual Inspirations

New Delhi : There is something terribly evocative in the origins of the word “muse”.

There is something terribly evocative in the origins of the word “muse”. In Greek mythology, the nine daughters of Mnemosyne (the goddess of memory) and Zeus (the god of sky and thunder) were called Muses. Each was associated with a form of writing or art. Modern literature and psychology explain Muse as inspiration and make no reference to gender (or plurality), but the sensuousness of the term has always endowed it with a female form in our imaginations.

Even in fashion, having a muse has been for many designers worldwide, one of the few constants in the otherwise fickle profession’s flurry to keep up with change. Which is why, emphasises Wendell Rodricks, commitment is the secret behind bottomless inspiration. A designer for whom commitment and loyalty matter more than the unbearable lightness of the fabrics he works with, or the rhapsody of his dreamy drapes or the history of a particular weave that has, in the past, turned him into a research student. Wendell is a man of Muses. Plural, yes, you read it right.

“I have two muses. Both are faceless in a way, but I know their bodies and minds,” he says. “The first is the real Indian woman. She wears my clothes but not to make a statement. Clothes are just are an extension of her mind. An average mature woman measures 40-38-44 while a younger person would measure 36-32-42 approximately. She wants clothes that flatter, beautify, slim her down and make her look taller. My other muse is for the ramp; though I always keep a translation in mind for my real Indian female muse. So though this “girl” is 32-25-36, I design clothes that look great on the ramp but know what I am going to add or take away for it before it goes on the rack. I may add sleeves, raise or lower cleavage, add a sheer layer to hide a hip or redesign the neckline to keep the emphasis on the face. For the ramp, my muse should seduce the audience with sensuality, intelligence, beauty, colour and silhouette against carefully chosen music, lighting, and choreography,” he says.

Even as you look impressed, Wendell continues, “Did I say faceless? Only up to a point. My two muses are Malaika Arora Khan and Anjana Sharma.” Anyone who has read the designer’s recently-released memoirs The Green Room realises that the warp and weft of his life are people. Besides Jerome Marrel, his partner and love without whom Wendell would not have been the man we know, there are those who dress up his life. Malaika Arora Khan, the Munni in our reformatted memories and Anjana Sharma, who, till very recently, was the head of fashion at IMG-Reliance, are two such women. “Both have sparkling minds and bodies. Both have taught me what works for real Indian women. Both are ideal ambassadors of my style philosophy. I cannot recall how many times women have come up to me and said they want ‘the exact design, colour, cut and shape that Malaika or Anjana wore’. That’s also because, over the years, I have adjusted my design philosophy to their changing lives and bodies. I have seen Malaika since her teens, seen her evolve from a glamorous model to a yummy mummy. I know Anjana a few years more. If my clothes enjoy the success they do — both on ramp and in retail — Malaika and Anjana are the raison d’être,” he concludes, much like taking a bow.

Ask the women and they exult too. “Wendell’s clothes make me feel like a woman,” says Arora Khan. On the other hand, Sharma, a stunner with a strong personal style (you may dress exactly like her but you can’t ever copy her look), says that being Rodricks’ muse has made her feel very special. “We have never discussed this, but it’s been something I became aware of over the years. Whenever I would walk into a Wendell store, I could actually pick entire racks that were ‘me’. These coexisted with my personality — sexy to edgy, corporate to whimsical, all with an Indian soul. Over the years, Wendell has nurtured my confidence and pushed me to be me and have an opinion,” says Sharma.

Both ladies wear Wendell Rodricks like second skin — his latest creations as well as vintage. “I am completely loyal to his clothes,” admits Sharma. Arora Khan is unabashedly a Wendell woman, even asking the designer to keep her motherhood in mind when he designs clothes for her now. “Two much, isn’t it?” asks Wendell, his eyes twinkling.