Earlier this morning, Wendell Rodricks was officially recognised as a Padma Shri awardee in a simple ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi. Stylista Insider spoke to him immediately after, to get a first-hand account of the monumental event in the veteran designer’s career. Excerpts from our conversation:
Take us through the Padma Shri ceremony from this morning.
The ceremony was very dignified – solemn, yet celebratory and punctual. In fact, it was a very enjoyable event with no stress at all! My partner Jerome Marrel and I mingled with all the other Padma Shri awardees, and there was a sense of camaraderie that veteran actor Kamal Haasan explained best. He said, “This is a room full of the best in India, and it feels great to be a part of it.” What was intimidating was the presence of an impressive front row, which included the Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and many other powerful politicians.
What was going through your mind moments before you went up to receive your medal?
I was applauding all the awardees before me, when suddenly they announced my name with the suffix “Fashion Designing”. I suddenly became aware that I was the only person in that category, so I felt the spirit of the entire Indian fashion industry walking with me up to the podium. It was a feeling like no other and is hard to put into words.
Was there an introduction of sorts made for each awardee?
There was a catalogue that listed each awardee’s accomplishments, which everyone in the room was following avidly. So apart from the name and the category, there was no need to say much more!
What did you do after?
We went for a celebratory lunch with all the other guests, and left right away for the airport back home to Goa.
Any anecdote from the ceremony that will stay with you?
The sense of peace at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and the fact that the President Pranab Mukherjee and the Prime Minister were so warm with everyone. They both shook my hand and congratulated me personally after the ceremony, in the reception area. That will always stay with me.
What plans to celebrate today?
I am having a private dinner with a few friends at home. I’m enjoying the emotion of being someone special recognised by my country. It’s a feeling of immense pride and joy!