Celebrated fashion designer and activist Wendell Rodricks breathed his last on Wednesday, February 12 at his home in Goa at the age of 59. He was known as the green crusader of his hometown and reports suggest that he died of a heart attack while he was in Colvale.
He started his career in the fashion industry by designing for Garden Vareli, Lakmé Cosmetics and DeBeers. The designer's illustrious career began in 1989 when he launched his label. In 1995, Wendell became the first Indian designer to be invited to IGEDO, which is the world's largest garment fair. He was also the first Indian designer to open the Dubai Fashion Week in 2001 and was invited to present at the Paris Prêt-à-Porter salon in 2007.
Wendell pioneered the concept of resort wear and was a huge advocate for eco-friendly fashion. He revived the traditional Goan attire of Kunbi sari in 2010 and managed to convince Pratibha Patil and Priyanka Gandhi to be its patrons thus increasing its price from Rs 700 to Rs 7000 with all the benefits going to the weavers. He even promoted the khadi movement with all his might and was a crusader for LGBTQ+ rights.
Rodricks had dressed many celebrities over the decades. He designed Lisa Ray's wedding gown in 2012 and she looked like a dream. He even helped Deepika Padukone who had been modeling for him for two years then, grab her debut film, Om Shanti Om by recommending her to Malaika Arora who in turn recommended her to Farah Khan. He even played himself in the Kangana Ranaut starrer, Fashion. In 2014, he was also awarded the fourth-highest civilian award, Padam Shri. Wendell announced his retirement from his label in 2016 to concentrate on his museum.
As soon as the news of his demise came to light, messages and tributes came pouring in from his fans on social media as well as celebrities who had worked with him.
From Malaika Arora and Arjun Rampal to Diana Penty and Anushka Sharma, all the stars in Bollywood are mourning his death.
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Woke up in NZ to the sad news of Wendell Rodricks having passed away in his sleep . He was one of the most iconic & original designers in fashion & A champion for LGBT rights . He had given me an opportunity to close his fashion week show in Mumbai after spotting me in Bangalore at a fashion show and was gracious, kind & encouraging. He was one of the reasons I had the courage to move to Mumbai from Bangalore to pursue modelling when I was just 18 years old . RIP Wendell 💜 My love and prayers for Jerome and the rest of his family and friends 🙏
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My dearest Wendell, I can’t believe you are no longer with us. Indian fashion has just lost a pioneer, a visionary and a legend. You were the force that introduced me to the world of fashion over 10 years ago... believing in me more than I did in myself. I will never forget those times. Will miss you dearly. RIP in paradise🙏💔
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You believed in me before I did... you pushed me to become who I was meant to be... 💫 I loved being the muse of one of the greatest minds in fashion... your muse! You are very loved @wendellrodricks and we will always keep you in a special place in our hearts.. ♥️ Thank you for your magic, your laughter, and for always having my back. Rest now, my dear friend... Sending my love and prayers to Jerome and your family 🙏 RIP #wendellrodricks
Shocked to hear about the sudden demise of fashion designer, Wendell Rodricks,— Madhur Bhandarkar (@imbhandarkar) February 12, 2020
My heartfelt condolences to his family & dear ones. We will truly miss him. RIP 🙏 pic.twitter.com/1aEAbMzyMS
Wendell , I may have not know you well enough but all I know is that every time I saw you , you would always be smiling and your smile would light up the entire room... wherever you are may the angels always be with you ❤️ #gonetoosoon #RIPWendellRodricks pic.twitter.com/1gHzOnjyxC— Neha Dhupia (@NehaDhupia) February 12, 2020
Deeply saddened to hear about the sudden demise of my very good friend and designer, Wendell Rodricks. His excellency in his work & skills are irreplaceable & shall always be cherished.— VishwajitRane (@visrane) February 12, 2020
We will truly miss him. My heartfelt condolences to his family & dear ones. pic.twitter.com/CzRnQJjbxf
Shocked to hear about the untimely demise of Wendell Rodricks, one of India’s most renowned designers. My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. May his soul rest in peace 🙏— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) February 12, 2020
Gutted to hear about the untimely demise of @Wendellrodricks. Had only met him briefly but admired his advocacy of gay rights and his love for his home state, Goa. He was one of a kind! Rest in peace. Condolences to family ! 🙏🏽— TheRichaChadha (@RichaChadha) February 12, 2020
One of my first interviews as a rookie journalist was of #WendellRodricks. I knew nothing of fashion. I will never forget the kindness he showed. I cannot imagine he’s not anymore. Condolences to his family.— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) February 12, 2020
Late #WendellRodricks was working on his costume museum in Goa, in its final plastering stage.The Moda Goa Museum will be India's 1st costume museum in a 450 year-old heritage Goan villa.Over the years he made his Goan heritage part of his work which was famous for its minimalism pic.twitter.com/Fd6VLzX6df— B.Manoshprotim (@em_basu) February 12, 2020
Wendell Rodricks did a lot for Goa, his museum and his legacy will live on. His untimely death is unfortunate.— Shefali Vaidya. (@ShefVaidya) February 12, 2020
Too shocked and saddened by the passing away of #WendellRodricks, he was not only a legend in the fashion world but a beautiful compassionate human being. He followed his passion, through his work and his activism. He was a blessed soul. RIP Wendell 🙏— Priya Dutt (@PriyaDutt_INC) February 12, 2020
A blurry first picture of Wendell & me.— Martina Roy (@martiniiiiiii) February 13, 2020
I remember how he’d praise me to the moon and often tell me that I should be a model and not waste my time in journalism. Today, as I type this post, I am devastated... (1/2) #WendellRodricks #RIPWendellRodricks pic.twitter.com/GIX0pQrGOG
We are deeply saddened to hear this news about Rodricks' untimely demise but he will continue to live on through the work he did. Sending love to his family and friends in this tough time. Rest in peace, you were an inspiration to a generation.
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