‘Wendell Rodricks leaves a void that cannot be filled’: A tribute to a designer, artist, activist, friend
Wendell Rodricks died on February 12 at his Goa residence at the age of 59. Fashion guru, Prasad Bidapa fondly reminisces about the brilliant designer as he brings us vignettes of Wendell’s life and why this great man will always be remembered...
In the Indian Fashion Design Firmament, Wendell occupied a very special place indeed. He was artist, musician, activist and animal lover, a man whose immersive love affair with fashion consumed his entire life.
Starting off in Mumbai as a catering student, he moved to his first job in Muscat. Moving on to Los Angeles and Paris to study fashion design, he specialised in couture.
He came back to India in 1988 and quickly began to create a name for himself working with firms like Garden Vareli, Lakme & De Beers. He launched his eponymous label in 1990, and moved base three years later to his beloved Colvale in Goa, where his beautiful home became an iconic destination.
The Wendell Rodricks label was about minimalism even before it became fashionable. His stark cutting techniques were geometric and modern, playing with drape and tactile fabrics that were futuristic and sexy.
He was always averse to embellishment like embroidery or print. He preferred the colour blocking of solids, creating columnar work that remain classic and contemporary even decades later. His muse, the beautiful Malaika Arora typified his zeitgeist, creating unforgettable images and timeless fashion.
He mentored the talented Schulen Fernandes to take over his label around 5 years ago, and in her he found the perfect line of succession.
He wrote many books. On fashion, on costume and the culture of Goa. His passionate activism saw him embrace issues and causes from the environment to the preservation of heritage Goan buildings & structures.
Together with his partner Jerome, Wendell lived the life he chose and wanted. A life full of love, art, travel, pets and fashion. At 59, he was just too young to die.
Memories come flooding back as I remember him now. I cannot forget how we worked and partied together so many times. Recently, I shared a recipe that he had posted on FB which was a great hit. I will always remember how he was such an ardent activist and how much he worked for environmental causes. He leaves a void that cannot be filled, and I shall remember him with great affection and pride at having known this extraordinary individual.