Wendell Rodricks (28 May 1960 – 12 February 2020) was an Indian fashion designer and author based in the western Indian region of Goa. He was also an activist for social causes, the environment, and gay rights. In 2014, the Government of India conferred upon him its fourth-highest civilian award, the Padma Shri.
1.4 Other pursuits
5 Personal life
7 External links
Rodricks was born on 28 May 1960 into a Goan Catholic family. He grew up in Mumbai and attended St. Michael's High School in Mahim. After completing school, he took a graduate diploma in catering. After this, he joined as Assistant Director of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Officers Club in the city of Muscat in 1982. However, he did not pursue these professions but moved to fashion designing. He began by using his savings to study fashion in Los Angeles and Paris. In the early 2000s, 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).
Rodricks began his career in fashion by designing for Garden Vareli, Lakmé Cosmetics and DeBeers. When in Paris with his first portfolio in hand, he was advised to put "your country in your clothes". He launched his own label in 1989 with his first show held at the Regal Room of the Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai. His first collection consisted of twelve ensembles, with model Mehr Jesia. Out of these, only six were complete outfits. He did not have enough funds for supplying all models with shoes or bottoms for their organza tunics. Since then, Rodricks' work has involved a wide range of fashion—from lecturing on world costume history (at SNDT Women's University) to fashion journalism and styling for international advertising campaigns. 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 is a fellow design member of the Fashion Design Council of India.
Rodricks is known for pioneering the idea of resort wear and for advocating eco-friendly fashion. In 2010, he revived the traditional Goan attire of the kunbi sari. He convinced 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. He is also a part of the khadi movement, and even promoted it at the world's largest organic fair, BioFach, at Nuremberg, Germany, in 2011 when he was invited there. In 2017, he presented a collection for plus-size women at the Lakme Fashion Week in 2017.
Rodricks has dressed many over the decades. When his close friend Lisa Ray decided to get married in 2012, she chose a gown designed by him. In 2014, he paid tribute to actress Rekha at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), on the occasion of her 60th birthday. Rodricks even helped Deepika Padukone, who had been modelling with him for roughly two years then, grab her role in Om Shanti Om by recommending her to Malaika Arora, who in turn recommended her to Farah Khan in 2007.
In 2016, he announced his retirement from his label, to concentrate on his museum. He handed over to his student, Schulen Fernandes, who first worked with him in 1999.
He made cameo appearances in the 2003 film Boom and in the television play True West in 2002. He also played himself in the 2008 film Fashion.
Rodricks contributed to journals of travel and art, and even wrote about food, especially Goan cuisine.
In 1998, Mario Miranda requested Rodricks to write a chapter on the history of the Pano Bhaju, a traditional outfit worn to perform the mando in Goa. This inspired Rodricks to research it in detail. He interned at Lisbon and New York, learned the Portuguese language to be able to read relevant documents, and finally traced its history to the Silk route. He finally published the results of his years of research on Goa's costumes in his first book, Moda Goa: History and Style, in 2012.
Later in 2012, Rodricks released his autobiography, titled The Green Room. It came about as the result of a writing challenge by a fellow author.
In 2017, he released Poskem: Goans in the Shadows. It is a work of fiction about poskem, the adopted children of well-off Goan families, who are never treated with respect, and in some cases are even victims of abuse. The book features illustrations by Mario Miranda.
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