Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks died on Wednesday evening at the age of 59 in his home in the village of Colvale in Goa. Rodricks, an advocate of his home country and his textile traditions, worked intensively on his dream project: Moda Goa – a museum dedicated to the history of Goanian costumes, which is due to open in March. His most recent Instagram post was a series of photos documenting the work in the museum.
Rodricks, an award-winning Padma Shri designer and known for combining modern aesthetics with traditional Goan influences, was also an environmentalist and tireless advocate of the rights of LGBTQI +. As an animal lover, he recently adopted two stray puppies from a local animal shelter. In addition to fashion, he was also an author and had written Moda Goa – history and style, his memories The green room and Poskem: Goans in the shade,
The news of Rodrick's death was received with shock by participants in the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW). “The entire fashion industry is shocked. People noticed a small change in his health, but no one knew that it would. It is too sudden. He was a legend, ”said Sunil Sethi, chair of the Fashion Design Council of India, on the sidelines of the ongoing LFW in Mumbai.
Rodricks was born in Mumbai and studied fashion design in the USA and France from 1986 to 1988. He is often described as a pioneer of the concept of "resort wear" when it was not a popular idea in India. He worked on the planning of the first Lakme India Fashion Week and often presented his collections in later editions. In 2010 he revived the weaving of the traditional Goan Kunbi Sari and presented the design at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.
Rodricks is described in warm brush strokes by everyone who knew him. His neighbor and friend from Colvale, designer Gopika Chowfla, said it was a shock to hear about his death: "He seemed to have suffered gracefully." Supermodel Sheetal Mallar, who has worked with him for more than two decades, said: " He was a very generous friend and host. His home was like an open house – a bundle of love. "The photographer Rafique Sayed said:" I could write a book about him. He was an amazing person who was extremely talented and gave me a lot of freedom. I have worked with him for over 25 years. “Mr. Sayed, who photographed Rodrick's latest collection two weeks ago, complained that his friend and colleague would not see the realization of his dream – Moda Goa. His second cousins, Anil and Laxmi Lobo from Mumbai, attributed Rodricks the maintenance of family ties: “He was a trained cook and loved to cook and feed people. He would try to get in touch. "
Rodricks lived in Goa with his life partner Jerome Marrel.
Onir, filmmaker: We worked together professionally, but we were also friends. Our friendship was also about being outside and being proud of our identity. He was one of the few voices in the fashion industry to speak out. He also designed the clothes for my film[[[[Shab], He always said to me: "Everything you want to do, I'll be there for you." Without asking anything, he sent me things from his personal wardrobe and knew that I was an independent filmmaker. He had told me for years to spend time with him in Goa, and I actually did this November. As always, he was absolutely loving and pampering. Knowing that I love food and that he would teach me his recipes. What is really sad is that his dream project, the Museum of Goan Costumes, is almost finished. He led me through the whole house and showed me everything he has collected over the years. It is really sad that he will not be there when the museum is inaugurated. He was always so nice and full of love. He was such a giving person and full of life.
Sridhar Rangayan, filmmaker and founder of the festival director of the Kashish Mumbai Queer Film Festival: It's pretty shocking to learn that Wendell Rodricks dies. The message has not yet arrived because I was interacting with him a few days ago. He chose the winner of the Kashish poster competition two weeks ago. I still cannot believe that this message can be true. He was such a giant of a man, so full of compassion and love. He was an advocate of the rights of the LGBTQ community and set a good example. We have lost a great person and a very dear friend. I myself and the entire Kashish team mourn the loss of him.
Apurva Asrani, filmmaker: Wendell was an extremely kind and generous soul. When he was at the forefront of his game as a designer, he made oversized clothing for women and called them lush goddesses. He worked bravely for LGBTQ rights and gave people like me hope for lasting same-sex relationships. He was a good writer and created magic with his book Poskem, It was a reservoir of knowledge and spoke eloquently about art, politics and culture. He was a talented musician and as you can [in] This video was sung with so much passion. He was an animal lover and after watching his bond with his boxer Sophie, I knew that her death in the past month would have broken his heart. But he was not the type to trample, stop, give up. He marched on and fought the good fight. He worked very hard to make his Moda Goa Museum dream come true, his gift to Goa, for which he gave up his own home and years of his life. He looked exhausted from all the obstacles that came with starting something so ambitious in India, but he never stopped being the kind and loving friend he was. India has lost a wonderful artist and people … and I have lost a very dear friend. I will miss you very much, honey. Now enjoy your summertime forever.
Payal Khandwala, designer: I'm so sad to hear about Wendell's sudden death … and despite our recent differences, I've always valued him as a teacher and designer. This is a great loss not only for his family and friends, but also for his students and the entire fashion community. He is in my thoughts and prayers. His sharp wit, humor, talent and generosity will surely be missing.
Ujjwala Raut, supermodel from NYC
I have known him since I was 18. I was in his house so many times, with his many cats and all the food and parties. We sat on his terrace and talked all night. His house was open to everyone. He introduced me to everyone in Goa. He was a family.
He was a gentle soul and nothing came to him. He always kept it together. He knew how to make women look stunning. You were so minimal. When I had my De Beers shoot at 18, I was new to the industry. He felt that I felt uncomfortable [about having men adjust my clothes; it took a few years to get used to that!], He said gently, "If you're not cool with that, please do it yourself." He never gave you a shot just because you got paid for his shoot. He was almost parental during the millions of shots we made of him and Farrokh [Chothia], I don't think he has ever made anyone's life uncomfortable. He had the name for my daughter Ksha. I am so glad that she met him at least once [in Pune], I still can't believe he's gone. It was always good to know that there were people like him who helped without thinking about what they could get out of you. We have to appreciate these moments now. Wendell was such a gentle person, had a lot of respect for others, appreciated his place and was fun … he was a twin, maybe why I could relate to him!
Neeta Lulla, fashion designer
There was a touch of humanism in his work and fabrics. You saw his heart in it. He was a great teacher when he was teaching with me and Hemant [Trivedi], He taught very easily [a class on the history of world costumes at SNDT Women’s University] and made it a point that they understood him.
Much later, he would report a message or call every month. Every time I visited Goa, it presented a huge distribution. And no matter when you last met him, he was one of those people who could easily continue where we left off. You don't see that in many people today. My prayers go to Jerome [Marrel] and his family. It's a really sad day for the industry.
Sheetal Sharma, Show Director from Bangalore
I started my career as a choreographer with him and he was an angel that I had to deal with. I sometimes felt like an idiot when things weren't going the way they should. He would jump in, make a few small changes, and flip the choreography over. And he was never in the spotlight. He trusted me with his Goa Carnival Show. He brought Anushka Sharma to her first show in Mumbai, and that was the beginning for her. He was a real person, a veteran who left early.
Nina Manuel, former model based in the UK
I met him for the first time in 1995 and opened and closed many shows for him. His shows and shootings were so futuristic, but not strange. I remember shooting with him and Farrokh in which I came out of a Louis Vuitton case … it was fabulous! I have never seen Wendell stressed out. His shows and shootings were always fun, comfortable and carefree. And his partner Jerome was equally down to earth. At one of the first fashion weeks in Mumbai, I remember that he never had a problem and knew exactly who would wear what. He had a great eye. I still have a lot of his clothes; I felt like a complete woman. When I moved to New York, he introduced me to many people. Even after my model years, he maintained a relationship in which he had no use. Talks with him have never changed. Loved seeing his photos from his travels and his recipes on Facebook. And he not only opened his home to us, but also that of his friends like Mario Miranda.
(With contributions by Deborah Cornelious, Kennith Rosario and Rosella Stephen)