Indian fashion designer Wendell Rodricks has died at his home in Goa.
The fashion designer and activist reportedly passed away at his Colvale residence. While the cause of death is not confirmed, sources close to the family state Rodricks died of a heart attack.
Born on May 28, 1960, Rodricks was considered a pioneer in the world of Indian fashion. He was also activist on issues relating to the environment. In 2014, he was awarded the Padma Shri - India's he fourth highest civilian award - by the government.
Rodricks may have courted controversies later in life, however, the former resident of Oman, had a career of fashion firsts in the 90s. He burst on to the scene in a decade when fashion was still trying to find a voice in India. Rodricks was also instrumental in bringing about the Lakme Fashion Week in 2000.
The following year, Rodricks brought his brand of linens and cottons to open Dubai Fashion Week, promoting sustainable style much before it became a fashion motto in 2019.
In an interview with Gulf News in 2017, Rodricks also spoke about bringing plus-size designer wear to the masses through his aLL Primero Collection.
“I believe in fashion democracy — it [fashion] is for everyone, no matter what age, colour or size. In fact, when we showed the sketches to some of our clients, they wanted to buy them in regular sizes too,” he said in the interview. “When I see the unnecessary drama and chaos in fashion, I’m amazed and amused. The sycophancy, paranoia and insecurity are surreal. Come on, we are just glorified tailors ...”
In his career, Rodricks would go on to open the Moda Goa museum, design the uniform for the Goa Police Band, revive the traditional Goan attire of the kunbi sari and gracefully retire from the ramp.
“After a career in hotel management in Mumbai and my sweat and blood years working with the Royal Oman Police, handling Sultans, Sheikhs, Presidents, Prime Ministers et al, I realised one can take on the world in a disciplined, restrained and orderly manner. I learnt discipline from a young age,” Rodricks said in the same interview.
When asked about the achievements he was most proud of, he replied: “I don’t think about myself at all. There is much to do without thinking of one’s self and developing an unnecessary ego. I live in a real world in a small village in Goa. Life in an ivory tower is just so not my vibe. Apart from my partner and my dogs, I love this journey called life. I am on a constant high with life and this big, beautiful world.”
In the later years, Rodricks often courted controversy, calling out Bollywood stars such as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas on their fashion choices on the red carpet.
Celebrties and those in the fashion circles have come out to express their shock and grief over his sudden death.
In India, a number of politicians also came forward to condole his death.
Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani condoled the death of Rodricks on Twitter, writing, "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."
Goa minister Minister Vishwajit Rane also tweeted. "Deeply saddened to hear about the sudden demise of my very good friend and designer, Wendell Rodricks. His excellency in his work and skills are irreplaceable and shall always be cherished. We will truly miss him. My heartfelt condolences to his family and dear ones," he wrote.
Among those mourning his loss was The Fashion Design Council of India. ""FDCI is deeply disheartened with the sudden and untimely demise of one of the country's iconic designer, Wendell Rodricks. The fashion fraternity lost a legend today. Wendell, we will miss you," FDCI tweeted.
And film director Madhur Bhandarkar posted on social media, "Shocked to hear about the sudden demise of fashion designer, Wendell Rodricks, My heartfelt condolences to his family & dear ones. We will truly miss him. RIP."
Rodricks' funeral will be held at his ancestral village of Colvale on Thursday.
- With inputs from ANI