Veteran fashion designer Wendell Rodricks (60) passed away in Panaji, Goa, on Wednesday evening.
The Padma Shri awardee was an environmentalist and a gay rights activist who had been suffering from a prolonged illness, to which he succumbed at 5.45 p.m. on Wednesday. Sources close to the family said that the funeral will take place at 3.30 p.m. on Thursday.
Rodricks was a beloved face in the fashion industry who was loved by peers and competitors alike. Years ahead of his time, he was the pioneer of echo fashion in the country and can be credited with introducing the concept of resort wear in India.
The champion of ‘Make in India’, even before the movement was started, Rodricks was the first Indian designer to be invited to the world’s largest garment fair — IGEDO — in 1995.
The first Indian designer to open the Dubai Fashion Week in 2001, Rodricks was also invited to present his creations at the Paris Pret a Porter salon in 2007.
FDCI President Sunil Sethi stated, “It’s such a shocker. Just two days ago, we were discussing a show which was to take place on February 22. His museum was to open in Goa in March. We were working quite closely together as the FDCI was to take space in the museum which he had been working on over the past two years.
“From winning the Padma Shri and writing books to discovering most of India’s biggest models and having a celebrity clientele — there was so much achievement. And he was not finished. There is still something that was left to achieve. It is a sad day for the Indian fashion Industry. Wendell was a legend and he will be missed a lot. I wish Jerome, his partner, all the strength.”
The designer also authored a number of books, including ‘Moda Goa: History and Style’, ‘Poskem: Goans in the Shadows’ and his autobiography ‘The Green Room’.
Designer Hemant Sagar said, “I first met him when we were both invited to stock in a multi-designer store almost two decades ago, because we were the only two Indian designers with a Western sensibility and he loved a pair of pants I was wearing, made by me. He later bought one of them and was shopping in Paris where he bumped into Karl Lagerfeld who loved them. So that’s what dear Wendell was for me, a man always true to himself.”
Rodricks was also a recipient of the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts Et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2015.
Born into a Goan Catholic family, the 60-year-old designer travelled around the world, from Los Angeles to Paris, to study fashion. He interned at the National Museum of Costume and Fashion in Portugal and the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City. He launched his label in 1989.
Part of the khadi movement, Rodricks was a man of vision and was in the process of setting up the Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre before his untimely death.