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A man with fashion legacy-Wendell Rodricks passes away

A man with fashion legacy-Wendell Rodricks passes away

Shabarni Basu/IBNS | @indiablooms | 12 Feb 2020, 05:35 pm

Panaji/IBNS: Celebrated fashion designer, social activist and author Wendell Rodricks, who was also regarded as a gay icon in India, passed away at his residence in Colvale in Goa. He was 59.

According to sources, the famous designer died of a heart attack while he was at his residence.

One of the most popular sartorialists in India, Wendell Rodricks often raised his voice for social issues, environmental causes and gay rights in the country.

A self-made man, Rodricks was conferred with the Padma Shri award, the fourth-highest civilian award in the country, in 2014 for his contribution to the fashion industry.

Fashion designing:

Born to a Goan family and raised in Mumbai, Rodricks began his career in fashion designing with the help of his savings to study fashion in Los Angeles and Paris.

He completed internships at the National Museum of Costume and Fashion in Lisbon (on the conservation of pre-21st century garments) and the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City (on modern garments, under the museum's director, Valerie Steele in the early 2000s.

His first work as a fashion designer was showcased in Garden Vareli, Lakmé Cosmetics and DeBeers.

He launched his own label in 1989 with his first show held at the Regal Room of the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai. His first collection consisted of twelve ensembles, with model Mehr Jesia.

Since then there was no turning back for the designer who went on to design some of the leading actresses of the film industry.

Rodricks was known for his pioneering work and innovative ideas in designing resort wear. He also advocated eco-friendly fashion.

His achievement list is quite long as he was the first Indian designer to be invited to IGEDO (the world's largest garment fair) in 1995; the first Indian designer to open the Dubai Fashion Week in 2001, and was invited to present at the Paris Pret a Porter salon in 2007.

He was also credited to revive the Goan traditional attire of Kunbi Saree. Rodricks even convinced politicians Pratibha Patil, Priyanka Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to be its patrons, thus increasing the cost from a meagre Rs. 700 to more than Rs. 7000, for the benefit of the weavers.

In 2016, he announced his retirement from his label, to concentrate on his museum named the "Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre," exhibiting Goan costume. He had handed over his label to his student, Schulen Fernandes, who first worked with him in 1999.

Rodrick also tried his hands at acting and featured in films like Boom, television play 'True West' as well as playing himself in the 2008 film Fashion.


Besides his long tale of fashion designing, Rodricks contributed regularly to journals of travel, art, and even wrote about food, especially Goan cuisine.

He published his first book on Goan fashion in 2012, titled 'Moda Goa: History and Style.'

The celebrity designer also published his autobiography in 2012 titled 'The Green Room.'

In 2017, he released a fiction book named 'Poskem: Goans in the Shadows,' where he wrote about the adopted children of well-off Goan families, who are never treated with respect.

Gay rights activism:

Rodricks had long ago declared himself to be a homosexual and married Jerome Marrel in a civil ceremony in Paris in 2002 to the initial displeasure of his family.

All his life, he had strongly advocated for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

In 2018, he started a helpline for the LGBTQ community with the help of Ruby Almeida, the co-chair of Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.

Besides, he wrote articles raising concern on various social issues and the environment especially.

Recent controversy:

Known for his outspoken attitude, Rodricks had recently remarked on Priyanka Chopra's Grammy attire, which failed to impress him.

Priyanka, a Bollywood icon and now a popular face in Hollywood, wore a bold Ralph and Russo gown with an almost never-ending neckline at the 62nd edition of the award ceremony.

Rodricks had rather bluntly insta-grammed that there "is an age to wear some clothes". His remark had triggered a social media mayhem.

Drawing ire from Priyanka's fans, Rodricks wrote on Instagram, "Of course not many saw my sarcasm. It’s not for her this @ralphandrusso That said Ralph n Russo are the only American USA designers accepted by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Francaise. Their work is exquisite."

Later, he again wrote on Instagram, "For all those that said some really nasty things about me body shaming, here is my retort. Did I say anything about her body? No. Many women did. I just said the dress was wrong for her despite it being couture. It was more dress shaming than body shaming. Stop this sermon from high and read the post before you speak. There is an age to wear some clothes."

Twitter reactions on his death:

Union Minister Smriti Irani condoled Rodricks' demise in a twitter post writing: "Shocked to hear about the untimely demise of Wendell Rodricks, one of India’s most renowned designers. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. May his soul rest in peace 🙏"

The Fashion Design Council Of India mourned the death of Wendell Rodricks in a tweet and wrote: "FDCI is deeply disheartened with the sudden and untimely demise of one of the country's iconic designer, Wendell Rodricks. The fashion fraternity lost a legend today. Wendell, we will miss you."

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane posted: "Deeply saddened to hear about the sudden demise of my very good friend and designer, Wendell Rodricks. His excellency in his work and skills are irreplaceable and shall always be cherished. We will truly miss him. My heartfelt condolences to his family and dear ones."

Actress Jacqueline Fernandez tweeted: "Your demise leaves a void in the fashion fraternity that can never be replaced. May you RIP #WendellRodricks. You will be missed."

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur shared: "Goodbye gentle soul. Amazing designer. Friend. Had so much more to do. Died in the place he loved. A home he created for himself and his partner #WendellRodricks."

Model and actress Sophie Choudry mourned the death writing: "RIP #WendellRodricks ..Can never forget the love & kindness u showed me when I was starting my journey as an MTV VJ. You literally picked me out of a bunch and told everyone I would make it. It meant so much to me as did all our chats in French. Tu es avec les anges mon ami 💔"

Famous columnist Shobhaa De wrote: "Farewell ! Always true to your heart.
The baton was passed on...The label lives! What a beautiful legacy...