Friday 30, Oct 2020, Delhi (India)
Wendell Rodricks was a renowned figure of the Indian fashion Industry. He was not only an extravagant fashion designer, but he was also a remarkable author, a teacher, and a strong activist who fought for all social causes in his country. He was a kind man with a beautiful heart. Wendell was a self-made man.
Rodricks passed away in his peaceful sleep on 12th February 2020, due to a prolonged illness. Many Bollywood actresses were devastated to hear the news, they shared their feelings regarding the news and how Rodricks was an integral part of their life.
Wendell has always been close to Malaika Arora, he is also the godfather to her son Arhaan Khan. The actress posted on Instagram “A master couturier and his muse, I first sat and cried, and then I sat alone n smiled n laughed, just thinking of all the beautiful, beautiful memories and moments we shared,"
Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks was born on 28th May 1960 in a Goa-based catholic family and was raised in Mumbai. He did his schooling from St. Michael's High School in Mahim. Fashion was not the first for Rodricks before going ahead with fashion, he joined as Assistant Director of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Officers Club in the city of Muscat in 1982. Later, he went to Los Angeles and Paris for studying Fashion.
Wendell Rodricks has always been known for his vision in the Indian fashion industry.
Rodricks faced hardships while coming out to his parents and having a same-sex marriage. Wendell is often known as a person who would take a step back and let the budding designers take control. His calmness and purity of his heart made people fall in love with him. He married Jerome Marrel in a civil ceremony in Paris in 2002.
In 2014, Wendell Rodricks was awarded the fourth highest civilian honor Padma Shri. He was also honored with the Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters(Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the Government of France.
The iconic Fashion designer started his journey by designing for GardenVareli, LakméCosmetics, and DeBeers. In 1989, Wendell started his label with his first show held at the Regal Room of the Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai. With limited finance and collection, Rodricks managed to pull the show. He did not even have sufficient funds for accessories to match with the outfits.
The legendary Indian fashion designer never stopped believing in fashion. He also lectured the aspiring young designers at SNDT Women's University and did fashion journalism and styling for international advertising campaigns.
Wendell Rodricks marked himself in the history of the Indian Fashion Industry.
Rodricks is known for the launch of his resort wear collection and eco-friendly clothing. Around the year 2000, he got inclined towards the preservation of Goa culture.
He focused on traditional costumes. The passion towards his home town was so intense that for the past 30 years, he had been collecting vintage items including jewelry, shoes, clothing and so on. He was a man of diverse interests.
In 2010, he restored the customary Goan clothing of the kunbi sari. He persuaded Pratibha Patil, Priyanka Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to be its benefactors, consequently expanding the expense from a small Rs. 700 to more than Rs. 7000, to help the weavers.
A believer in the khadi development and responsible to advance it at the world's biggest organic fair, BioFach, at Nuremberg, Germany, in 2011, the famous Indian fashion designer was a true gem. In 2017, he launched a collection of clothes that were made for plus- size women at the Lakme Fashion Week.
Rodricks not only designed the models but also made it possible for a few of them to reach the heights in Bollywood Industry. Actresses such as Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma were recommended by Wendell.
In 2016, Wendell handed his creative control, as he announced his retirement from the industry. He gave his label to his understudy Schulen Fernandes, who had been working with him since 1999.
Apart from excelling in the fashion industry, Wendell marked himself as an author too. He often contributed his thoughts on food, travel, and art. In the year 2012, he released his autobiography “The green room” which is based on his love for his culture and Goa and how he turned into an activist. In 2017, he published another book titled Poskem- Goans in the Shadow.
Wendell Rodricks was related to a few social causes, and was particularly dynamic on the issues of the condition and gay rights and acted as the leading authority in LGBTQ rights.
Wendell often made a point of presenting himself as he is. Even in the '80s when coming out was next to impossible, Rodricks took a stand. He never ran towards an easy resort. In 2002, came out on national television, to motivate the coming generation to stand for themselves and celebrate love the way one wants. Despite fighting for LGBTQ rights, he received the honor of Padma Shri.
Rodricks was also one of the speakers at TEDx Panaji 2019.
Wendell made appearances in Bollywood movies as well. He played the cameo appearance in the movie Boom (2003), he played as himself in the movie Fashion (2008) and Fan (2016).
Lately, before his demise, Rodricks was in buzz for calling Priyanka Chopra on her choice of dress at the Red Carpet. This was not the first time he had done something like that. Earlier he had some similar instance with Aishwarya rai Bachchan as well.
Rodricks was also working on his passion - the Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre, which would house a "collection of over 800 artifacts stretching from the 7th century AD till present date", was to be inaugurated in March in Colvale.
In his autobiography, Wendell said “I love my land so much that if someone tells me to eat the soil in Colvale I will. My love for Goa is so strong that I cannot see it destroyed before my eyes”.
Wendell Rodricks and Jerome Marrel loved each other dearly. Being from different cultures and countries, they both shared and adapted the culture of each other. The couple loved to travel. They both seen around 150 countries together.
Wendell's demise has shaken the entire industry, both fashion and Bollywood. His work was not only praised in India, but he gained recognition on an international level as well. Members of Bollywood fraternity-like, Richa Chadha, Arjun Rampal, Shekhar Kapur, Jacqueline Fernandez, Rahul Khanna, and Pooja Bedi shared fond memories with the designer. People loved Wendell and were fond of him. Rodrick's legacy will now be carried on by the love of his life Jerome Marrel.