Wendell Rodricks: A legend hard to forget

Wendell Rodricks: A legend hard to forget, a legacy difficult to revive

Late fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. Credit: Facebook (wendell.rodricks)

Wendell Rodricks, the iconic fashion designer, author and activist, who gave new dimensions to the 'less is more' concept of minimalism, who advocated eco-friendly fashion, who pioneered resort wear in India, who talked about gay rights, and most importantly, unravelled the culture and heritage of the sunshine state on a grand stage was, by all accounts, a true son of Goa.  

Unconventional and innovative, traditional and futuristic, Wendell's is a tough act to follow, a legacy that could be hard to live up to for the fashion world.

Wendell's parents were migrants to Mumbai. "I used to come to Goa for holidays. However, after the 1992 Mumbai riots, I wanted to settle down in Goa,'' he had told me once.

Since then, Goa was home, in every way. And he wanted to give it all he could.

Wendell began his career in hotel management but went on to do Fashion Designing in New York and Paris. 

"When I entered the industry, Indian fashion was about brightly coloured silks, zari and heavy embroidery. I put my minimalist statement on racks in linen and cotton," Wendell had mentioned.

He was well ahead of the curve.  

Wendell wanted people to know more about Goa. "That it's not just about the sand and surf," the Padma Shri awardee had said.

His strong roots in Goa also led him to revive the weaving of the Goan 'Kunbi' sari. Now worn with pride by every section of society, Wendell took much effort to revive it armed with a strong faith in the textile.  

It was not a planned decision. "In Paris, when I went around with my first portfolio in hand for a job, a lady at a store said, 'why can't I see your country in your clothes?' That was the turning point,'' he says.

For the visually impaired, he brought out a line of collection -- 'Visionnaire' -- which showcased outfits with Braille scripts.

Wendell had a way with words as he had with history. He authored 'Moda Goa History and Style' and a memoir, 'The Green Room'. His third book, 'Poskem' turned the spotlight on the dark Goan tradition of poskim.

In his final days, he was busy with his soon-to-be-launched pet project Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre in Colvale, Goa. This was his home that he along with his partner had turned into a museum for fashion. They were sourcing antiques and pieces of history for it.

His last Instagram post says the 'final plastering at work'.



@modagoamuseum final plastering at work

A post shared by Wendell Rodricks (@wendellrodricks) on

"Moda Goa Museum will document and display the history of Goan costumes based on my book 'Moda Goa'. It is going to be a world-class museum,'' he had said.

'W' signed off, however, before the museum could open, leaving his rich legacy behind.   

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