Zandra Rhodes DBE has been successfully leading her fashion house and making and selling couture textiles for 50 years. To celebrate this impressive achievement Rhodes is displaying a wonderful retrospective exhibition that features a catwalk of more than 50 wearable creations and a rainbow of 30 beautiful fabric designs.
Zandra Lindsay Rhodes was born in Chatham in Kent and opened her first clothes shop on the Fulham Road in London. Rhodes first own collection was created in 1969 and focusing on printed textiles. Her degree was from the Royal Collage of Art where she specalised in printed textiles. During the 1970’s and 1980’s her clothes were worn by the rich and famous in Europe and America and were inspired by the punk era. In 1974 Rhodes is awarded Royal Designer for Industry. (2)
During the 1990’s her popularity continued and Rhodes continued to be inspired by her travels globally. In the 2000’s projects for the theatre enables Zandra to use her knowledge of luxurious fabrics and keen imagination to invent eye-catching costumes for stage productions and opera.
The highlights from a career devoted to colourful and innovative decorative design can be seen in ‘Zandra Rhodes 50 Years of Fabulous’ at the museum Rhodes created in the capitol The Fashion and Textile Museum at 83 Bermondsay Street, London, SE1 3XF
Several spotlit rooms are filled with mannequins wearing theatrical handmade outfits by Rhodes. They tell the story of her design development through the decades. Each piece is individual and elaborate and many different techniques and materials are used to create the stunning ensembles.
“Her prints were Pop Art-infused commentaries on the world of Sixties Britain; the designer felt that there was inherent structure within the pattern that could work with and enhance the shape and construction of a dress. With this concept as a starting point and with her distinctive approach to cut and form, the house of Zandra Rhodes soon became one of the most recognisable labels in London.” (1)
Another dark dramatic space is filled with large silk panels hung from the ceiling on horizontal wooden poles, each one is hand printed with a unique and intricate pattern on a different tinted slightly transparent fabric hanging.
This leads to a large bright studio space where Zandra’s large hand drawings and paintings are displayed. A film shown on a loop which showcases Rhodes inspiration, methodology and some of her favourite designs being produced. The short documentary gives a personal and detailed account of her journey to become one of the worlds most acclaimed fashion designers.
The prolific London designer explains her process which starts with her fine sketchbook drawings. Rhodes is a master of hand silk printing uasing skills she has developed throughout her illustrious career. Organic and geometric shapes and careful construction are also a key part of her design development and work flow.
Rhodes describes how she feels that British fashion designers are underrated in society. She believes passionately that London fashion designers often have great influence on the rest of the world. Zandra thinks this important export should be properly celebrated and she found and opened the London Fashion and Textiles Museum to allow a public space to be provided. This enables other important textile artists and up and coming fashion designers to use the gallery space to promote the high quality work that is created in Great Britain and the UK.
The show began on the 27th September 2019 and ends on 26th January 2020. The museum is open every day apart from Mondays and times are from 11 to 6pm or 5pm on Sundays. An adult ticket is £9.90 and concessions are available.
(1) Fashion and Textile Museum ‘Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous’ 6 Jan 2020
(2) Exhibition catalogue ‘Zandra Rhodes 50 Years of Fabulous’ for the Fashion and Textiles Museum. September 2019