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Wendell – fashion designer par excellence

Wendell – fashion designer par excellence

13 Feb 2020 No comment 15 hits

Ramnath N Pai Raikar | NT

Born on May 28, 1960, into a Goan Catholic family, Wendell grew up in Mumbai. After completing schooling, he took a graduate diploma in catering. He then joined as assistant director of the Royal Oman Police (ROP) Officers Club in the city of Muscat in 1982. However, he did not pursue these professions and moved to fashion designing.

Wendell used his savings to study fashion in Los Angeles and Paris. In the early 2000s, he completed internships at the National Museum of Costume and Fashion in Lisbon on the conservation of pre-21st Century garments, and at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City on modern garments.

Wendell began his career in fashion by designing for brands such as Garden Vareli, Lakmé Cosmetics and DeBeers. When in Paris with his first portfolio in hand, he was advised to put “your country in your clothes”.

In 1989, Wendell launched his own label with his first show held at the Regal Room of the Oberoi Hotel, Mumbai. His first collection consisted of twelve ensembles, with model Mehr Jesia. Since his work involved a wide range of fashion, from lecturing on world costume history at SNDT Women’s University to fashion journalism and styling for international advertising campaigns.

Wendell was the first Indian designer to be invited to IGEDO (the world’s largest garment fair) in 1995, as also the first Indian designer to open the Dubai Fashion Week in 2001. He was also invited to present at the Salon international de prêt-à-porter, in 2007. He is a fellow design member of the Fashion Design Council of India.

Known for pioneering the idea of resort wear and for advocating eco-friendly fashion, Wendell in 2010 revived the traditional Goan attire of the Kunbi sari. He convinced high-level politicians like Pratibha Patil, Priyanka Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi to be its patrons, thus increasing its cost from a meagre Rs 700 to more than Rs 7,000, for the benefit of the weavers. He was also a part of the Khadi movement, and even promoted it at the world’s largest organic fair, BioFach, at Nuremberg, Germany, in 2011. In 2017, he presented a collection for plus-size women at the Lakme Fashion Week.

Wendell has dressed many celebrities over the decades. When his close friend Lisa Ray decided to get married in 2012, she chose a gown designed by him. In 2014, he paid tribute to actress Rekha at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, on the occasion of her 60th birthday. He even helped Deepika Padukone, who had been modelling with him for roughly two years then, grab her role in ‘Om Shanti Om’ by recommending her to Malaika Arora, who in turn recommended her to Farah Khan in 2007.

In 2016, he announced his retirement from his label, to concentrate on his museum.

Wendell made cameo appearances in the 2003 film ‘Boom’ and in the television play ‘True West’ in 2002. He also played himself in the 2008 film ‘Fashion.’

Wendell contributed to journals of travel and art, and even wrote about food, especially Goan cuisine.

In 1998, cartoonist Mario Miranda requested Wendell to write a chapter on the history of the Pano Bhaju, a traditional outfit worn to perform the Mando in Goa. This inspired Rodricks to research it in detail. He interned at Lisbon and New York, and learned the Portuguese language to be able to read relevant documents, and finally traced its history to the Silk route. He finally published the results of his years of research on Goa’s costumes in his first book, ‘Moda Goa: History and Style’, in 2012.

Later in 2012, the celebrated fashion designer released his autobiography titled ‘The Green Room’. In 2017, he released ‘Poskem: Goans in the Shadows’, a work of fiction about poskem, the adopted children of well-off Goan families, who are never treated with respect, and in some cases are even victims of abuse. Wendell was awarded Padma Shri in 2014, and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 2015.

Wendell Rodricks openly admitted his homosexuality and married Jerome Marrel in a civil ceremony in Paris in 2002.

Source: Wendell – fashion designer par excellence

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