Wendell Rodricks was an Indian fashion designer and author. He was also a social activist and fought for the environment and gay rights.
Wendell Rodricks was born on Saturday, 28 May 1960 (age 59 years; at the time of death) in Mumbai. His zodiac sign is Gemini.
He did his schooling from St. Michael High School, Mahim, Mumbai. He did graduation in Hotel Management. After his graduation, he joined the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Officers Club in the city of Muscat in 1982.
However, he could not remain in the profession and decided to pursue fashion designing. He used all his savings from his job in Muscat to study fashion designing in London and Paris from 1986 to 1988. He completed his internships at 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).
Height (approx.): 5′ 10″
Eye Colour: Black
Hair Colour: Black
Family, Caste & Wife
He was born into a Goan Catholic Family. His father’s name is Felix Roque Rodricks, and his mother’s name is Greta Rodricks.
He was a homosexual and got married to Jerome Marrel in a civil ceremony in Paris in 2002.
He was the godfather of Arhaan Khan, the son of Arbaaz Khan and Malaika Arora.
As a Fashion Designer
He began his career by designing for brands like Garden Vareli, Lakmé Cosmetics, and DeBeers. He launched his own label by his name in 1989, and his first show was held at the Regal Room of Oberoi Hotel.
His collection consisted of twelve ensembles, with the models like Mehr Jesia, and out of all the ensembles, only six were complete; as he did not have enough fund to supply models with shoes or bottoms for their organza tunic. His first collection earned him the title of ‘Guru of Minimalism.’ His next collection was in 1995, which pioneered the concept of ‘resort wear’ and ‘eco-friendly garments,’ terms which were foreign to India at that time. He is the first designer from India to be invited for shows at IGEDO in Germany (1995), Dubai Fashion Week (2001), Malaysia Fashion Week (2002), the prestigious Paris Pret-a-Porter salon (2007), and the world’s biggest organic fair, BioFach in Nuremberg, Germany (2012). In 2010, he revised the Goan attire of the Kunbi Sari and presented them at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.
His efforts were appreciated by Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dixit, and Pratibha Patil (former President of India), in reviving the dying craft. In 2016, he announced his retirement from his label and handed it over to his student, Schulen Fernandes. He did this in an effort to concentrate on his museum “Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre.”
As an Author
In 1998, Mario Miranda (Cartoonist and Painter) requested him to write a chapter on Pano Bhaju, a traditional outfit worn to perform Mando in Goa. This led him to do research about the outfit in detail. In the process, he interned at Lisbon and New York and learned Portuguese to be able to read ancient scripts, so that he could learn more about the outfit. The years of his research on the subject was published in his book “Moda Goa: History and Style” (2012) by Harper Collins.
In 2012, his autobiography titled “The Green Room” was published.
In 2017, he published his first fictional work “Poskem: Goans in the Shadows.” The book features the illustrations by Mario Miranda.
He wrote for many magazines, coffee table books, and anthologies. He wrote about travel and art, and also wrote about food, especially Goan cuisines.
He made cameo appearances in the film “Boom” (2003) and television play “True West” (2002). He also appeared in the film “Fashion” (2008) as himself. Since 1993, Wendell and his husband were living in a 450-year-old house in Colvale, called Casa Dona Maria. In 2016, he shifted to a smaller house to covert it into a museum. The museum is named “Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre.”
He used to write columns for Goa Today on various social issues and issues concerning the environment. In 2012, he raised his voice against the IRFW (India Resort Fashion Week), which, according to him, damaged the environment. In 2018, he opened a helpline for LGBTQ+ community along with Ruby Almeida, the co-chair of the Global Network of Rainbow Catholics.
Awards & Honours
- Padma Shri in 2014
- Chevalier de l’Ordre National des Arts et Lettres by the Ministry of Culture and Communication of France in 2015
- Honoured by the All India Konkani Parishad
- In 2020, Wendall criticized Priyanka Chopra for her customised gown by Ralph & Russo that she wore to the Grammy’s. Wendall was criticized for his comments from people including Priyanka’s mother, Madhu Chopra and actress, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi. After which, Wendall released his statement, in which he wrote,
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. Men with huge bellies should not wear tight T-shirts. Same with women who wear minis past a certain age. If you don’t have it, don’t flaunt it. I stopped wearing Bermudas as I have a few varicose veins. Don’t make every issue body shaming, sexist or whatever. Or you can be false and fake resorting to being politically correct and not be truthful. If you don’t like my posts unfriend me.”
- In 2019, he lashed out at Aishwarya Rai Bachchan‘s stylists for dressing her like a sack at Paris Fashion Week. He posted a collage of her looks on his social media account and wrote,
@loreal you’ve got one of many prettiest ladies on this planet and that is the way you do her make-up and gown her? Sack the stylist for this sack gown with a notice that Halloween is subsequent month.”
- In 2018, he uploaded a picture on his Instagram account and accused Payal Khandawala of plagiarizing his technique of pleating of the fabric. The picture shared by Wendell included his creation and that of Payal’s, who is also a former student of Wendell. Wendell wrote on his Instagram,
At a time when the fashion industry is reeling with demonetisation and GST, it is deplorable when a person one taught, mentored, befriended and got into LFW should resort to such blatant copying. Sorry… but since 1995, have been doing this pleating with innovation but now since it affects our business I am forced to call this out.
- In 2016, he exhibited the history of Goan costumes titled “Ten Histories/Goan Costume” at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa. However, Goa University professor and Head of the History Department, Dr Pratima Kamat called out the exhibition for factual inaccuracies. Pratima further told the organizers to cover the text. Wendell threatened to withdraw from being a curator of the exhibition. At last, the covers were removed, and his text was on display.
158, Near Francisco Loui Louis Gommes Garden, Campal, Panjim, 403001
Wendell Rodricks, at the age of 59, died on 12 February 2020 at his house in Goa. The cause of his death is not certain but it is speculated that he died due to prolonged illness.
- Cuisines: Indian, French, Chinese, Ottoman
- Food: Morning Glory Tempura with Prawn Dip, Pani Puri, Chorizo Chilli fry with egg, Roasted Chicken, Mushrooms
- Beverage: Green Japanese tea with roasted rice flavour
- Dessert: Orange cake with chocolate chips
- Champagne: Krug and Crystal
- Cafe: Cafe de Flore, Paris
- Automobile Brands: Mahindra, BMW
- Musician: Ludwig van Beethoven
- Books: “Through the Narrow Gate” by Karen Armstrong and “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese
- Sunglasses: Dior and Tom Ford
- Travel Destination(s): Mumbai, Istanbul and Paris
- He liked travelling, listening to classical western music, and doing photography.
- When he was working at Oman, he also served the former Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said from 1982 to 1986.
- He was a part of the Khadi Movement and promoted Khadi wear at the world’s largest organic fair, BioFach, at Nuremberg, Germany, in 2011.
- In 2017, he presented a collection for plus-size women at Lakme Fashion Week.
- When Lisa Ray, one of his close friends decided to get married, she chose a gown designed by Wendell in 2012.
- He was instrumental in launching the careers of famous celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma. He launched Anushka Sharma as a model at Les Vamps Show at the Lakme Fashion Week in 2007 and also encouraged her to move to Mumbai. He also recommended Deepika Padukone (who had been modelling for him for roughly two years) to Malaika Arora, who further recommended her to Farah Khan for “Om Shanti Om” (2007), Deepika’s debut film.
- In 2019, he petitioned against the demolition of the 100-year old church in Colvale, Goa.
- He met Jerome Marrel for the first time when he was working for the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Officers Club in 1983. A friend of Wendell had introduced him to Jerome. Wendell credits Marrel for his success as a fashion designer, which he mentioned in his book “The Green Room.”
- He liked to cook and often posted the photos of his dishes on his social media accounts.
- He was an animal lover and owned two dogs named Zoe and Zorba, and a cat named Freddy.
- He also had a keen interest in music. He knew how to play the guitar and used to sing.
- He was very close to the veteran Indian actress Rekha and considered her as his soul sister. He also paid a tribute to her at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW), on the occasion of her 60th birthday in 2014.