Recently, a great fashion designer cum activist cum author passed away. Yes, we are talking about Mr. Wendell Rodricks, his contribution to the industry will always be memorable. He was a pioneer in the fashion industry as well as in LGBTQ civil rights activist community. For a long time, he was suffering from prolonged illness and on 12th February 2020, he left this world at the age of 59. Today we will throw some light on his life.
Wendell Rodricks belong to a Catholic family of Goa. He was born on 28 May 1960 in Goa and grew up in Mumbai. He did his schooling from St. Michael High school , after schooling he pursued a diploma in catering and left for Oman. Over there he joined the Royal Oman Police officers club as an assistant director. Rodricks was a homosexual and he met Jerome Marell in Muscat while working for royal Oman police officers club. They get married in a civil ceremony in 2002 against the will of Rodricks’s family.
Career and achievements
After leaving the Royal Oman police officers club, Mr. Rodricks moved to the fashion industry and started studying fashion designing in Los Angeles and Paris. He did his internship from National museum of costume and fashion in Portugal and museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. He then started his career by designing for Garden Vareli, Lakme cosmetics, and Debeers. He launched his own label in 1989 and did host his first show at Oberoi hotel of Mumbai. In his first show, he had to show up with 12 outfits but only 6 were completed due to lack of funds, but he did not lost his hope and kept his morale high. Afterward, he started blooming in the fashion industry and worked in multiple domains of fashion world ranging from designing to lecturing on world costume history to fashion journalism. He was the first Indian designer who was invited for the world’s largest garments fair IGED, also he was the first Indian designer to open the Dubai fashion week. Due to his influence in the fashion industry, he was also selected as a fellow member of the Fashion Designing Council Of India. He always promoted the eco-friendly fashion and also advocated the growth of the indigenous textile industry for which he revived the tradition of Kunbi saree( traditional Goan Sari). These sarees got more popularity and came in demand after promotion by him, this raises the prices of the sarees, which ultimately promoted the welfare of the Weavers. He also promoted Khadi on many International platforms. He also presented a collection for plus size women in 2017.
He helped Deepika Padukone to enter into Bollywood, also he launched Anushka Sharma as his model in 2007. In 2016, he announced his retirement from his label.
Apart from fashion designing, he appeared in movies like Boom in 2003 and Fashion. He also had appeared in a TV play named True West.
Now if we talk about his writing career he was fond of traveling and food so he wrote multiple travel blogs and journals. In 2012, his first book, Moda Goa: history and style, was published which gives a detailed account of Goan costumes. In the same year, he released his autobiography named The Green Room. His last book was Poskem: Goans in the shadow, which is a fictional work based on Poskem- the adopted children of well off Goan families who never get respect.
As we have discussed earlier also that he was a great personality with multiple colors, he was also a well-known activist in the field of LGBT community rights and the environment. He raises his concerns on these topics through columns in journals. He had spoken against India resort fashion week as it would have damaged the environment. In2018 he started a helpline for the LGBTQ community.
For is a great contribution to the fashion industry and society he was conferred with Padma Shri in 2014, which is the fourth highest civilian honor of India. He was also awarded Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, which is an award given by French cultural ministry to those who perform exceptionally well in fields of Art.