UCA awarded Heritage funding to digitise
150 fashion pieces from Dame Zandra Rhodes

Thanks to a £111,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, 150 fashion pieces from internationally renowned designer, Dame Zandra Rhodes, will be digitally archived by the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), with Rhodes’ accessories photographed for the first time. 

02 May 2024

The project, titled Colourful Heritage, runs from now until August 2025 and is a partnership between UCA and The Zandra Rhodes Foundation. It will record and digitise 100 garments by Rhodes, an alum of UCA and its Chancellor Emerita, as well as 50 accessories by her, some of which made in collaboration with contemporary milliners, Stephen Jones and Piers Atkinson. This new project builds on a digital archive of already 500 garments and more than 1,000 pages of Rhodes’ fashion drawings, which were digitised by UCA between 2011 and 2013.

Commenting on the award, Leigh Garrett, Head of Resources, Discovery & Liaison at UCA, said: “We are thrilled to have received this grant thanks to National Lottery players. The project will have many benefits for our students and staff, but also the wider community. As a resource, the archive has potential for many exciting and innovative projects to promote and foster the support of cultural heritage work in the UK and internationally.”

The archive will be accessible online for education and research worldwide. The project will offer paid placements for students from UCA’s School of Fashion & Textiles and run an outreach programme for young people from socio-economically deprived backgrounds.

Dame Zandra Rhodes, who has given her whole-hearted support, added: “I feel passionate about improving the wellbeing and creative education opportunities of underprivileged young people.  

“This project will not only develop the skills and employability of students at UCA but reach and inspire new audiences for heritage, not just the most privileged groups.”

The outreach part of the project will concentrate its efforts in the Medway region in Kent, which is where Zandra grew up and has high levels of disadvantaged students. 

According to Medway Council’s Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), in 2019 Medway had 37 neighbourhoods ranked in the 20% most deprived areas nationally, which is why UCA aims to prioritise underrepresented learners from this community in its outreach work.

Next Spring, UCA will host a series of workshops with school children from a quarter of all schools in the Medway region to connect them with their local heritage and share Zandra’s learned knowledge in the very place it originated. 

And at the end of the project, teachers from Kent and beyond will be able to download resources for supporting Zandra’s legacy.

More information about the Colourful Heritage project can be found here.