“I love the word curvy. It’s artistic. It’s beautiful. There is a flow to it. A straight line can be boring.” This quote by actor Salma Hayek finds special resonance with designer Wendell Rodricks. A veteran in the Indian fashion industry, his fidelity to inclusivity harks back to 1989, when he started working to offer Indian women a more all-encompassing range of clothing sizes. “Most people assume that ‘plus’ means curvy or voluptuous, but ‘plus size’ has so many varied shapes and sizes under its belt, especially in the case of Indian women, whose frame is defined by hips, naturally,” said Rodricks.
The designer was approached by aLL, an Indian apparel brand with 52 stores across the country solely catering to plus-sized customers, to put together a collection titled Primero, which was recently showcased at Lakmé fashion week in Mumbai. The proudly democratic show featured Veronica Campabell, India’s first transgender plus-size model, along with a handpicked band of 20 voluptuous, street-cast women and men.
Expounding on the virtues of asymmetry and bias cuts, the Goa-based Rodricks and his design head, Schulen Fernandes, worked with a palette of whites and greys with blazes of rainbow hues to create 22-key looks, including kaftans, capes, swing dresses, asymmetrical gowns, and the indispensable jumpsuit in the boldest and brightest blocks of color. “The Western market coveting to appease the plus-sized customer can learn a thing or two from Indian dressmaking tricks,” he suggested. To wit, a jumpsuit in a tailored, Western style tends to choke at the crotch, but when cut in the forgiving Indian dhoti (drape) technique, the dilemma is avoided. “I didn’t want to follow the American plus-size format that simply replicates designs created for ‘slim’ shoppers and introduces them in larger sizes, or advocate myths that black is the answer to a slimming look, and color or color-blocking is not meant for plus-sized shoppers,” he asserted.