If there’s someone who can truly be credited for putting Goa on the global map, then it’s none other than well-known fashion designer Wendell Rodricks. Proving there’s more to Goa’s popularity than just Feni and fun, Rodricks has over the years added fashion to his city’s list of pride. His Twitter handle currently describes him as a fashion designer from Goa, India and an environmental activist and writer. Rodricks can now add the coveted title of Padamshri to that bio. After another veteran designer Ritu Kumar, Rodricks is the second Indian fashion designer to be given the national award for his contribution to Indian fashion.
In the world of bling and heavily embellished designer wear, Rodrick’s collections have over the years stood out for their simplicity and sensual drapes. In fact, when it comes to resort wear, best worn on the sands of Goa or Maldives or Greece, there’s no one who does it better than him. Be it long maxi dresses with cut-away backs or sheer tunics with asymmetrical hemlines, his designs are both fun and flirty. Breaking the minimalism is his euphoric use of vibrant colours like lime, aqua, coral, neon pink…the mix is as heady as a summer cocktail.
Though he’s an intrinsic part of the Indian fashion weeks, Rodricks is one of the few Indian designers who has worn his role as an activist with pride. Be it cleaning up Goa’s streets, speaking up for gay rights, preserving its heritage or researching on fashion, Rodricks has been a front runner. He’s arguably one of India’s first designer to go eco-chic, having started work with organic fabrics in the early 1990s. He has singularly helped revive the long-forgotten Kunbi sari of Goa. His Eco-Goa room in Wendell Rodricks Design Space offers garments made with all-organic elements and natural dyes sourced from the Western Ghats, which Rodricks helped restore along with a group of NGOs in Goa. The designer has also authored two books - The Green Room (a personal memoir by him on his many passions and the Indian fashion industry) and Moda Goa: History and Style which chronicles the evolution of Goan costumes.
Speaking to a news agency post the announcement of award, an emotional Rodricks remarked: “I am overjoyed and humbled by the honour India and Goa has conferred on me. All the hard times and hard work seem worth the journey,” he said. Congratulations Wendell.