UCA Chancellor Emerita, Zandra Rhodes will be the focus of a new milestone exhibition in London that celebrates five decades of her iconic designs.
The Fashion and Textile Museum presents Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous, the largest ever exhibition of her work. This comprehensive retrospective will traverse fifty years of a fascinating and varied career, presenting influential looks, original textiles and archive material from a true design legend.
Models wearing garments from Zandra Rhodes AW 1976 78 ‘Mexican’ collection
Re-imagined in authentic Dame Zandra style, the Museum’s Main Gallery will host fifty looks - one from each year of Rhodes’ career; from a 1969 ankle-length kaftan, screen-printed in silk chiffon to a 2018 fan pleated jumpsuit in a dramatic shimmer satin. The show will also include a collection of Zandra’s original drawings, her screen-printed textiles, and key pieces worn by some of the biggest names in royalty and rock and roll; Diana, Princess of Wales, Freddie Mercury, Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Harry, Kate Moss and HRH Princess Michael of Kent.
Freddie Mercury and Brian May of Queen wear Zandra Rhodes tops on stage, 1974. Photograph by Douglas Puddifoot
Born in Chatham in Kent in 1940, Zandra was first introduced to fashion by her Mother; a fitter for the Parisian fashion house, House of Worth and later a lecturer at Medway College of Art, one of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA’s) founder colleges. Zandra herself studied at Medway College of Art in the late 50s, focusing her studies on printed textiles. From then, Zandra began making dresses from her own bold fabrics, which many traditional British manufacturers considered too outrageous, in doing so, she pioneered the use of printed textiles as an intrinsic part of the garments she created.
Zandra Rhodes photo for the poster for the SS 1986 ‘Spanish Impressions’ collection. Photograph by Robyn Beeche
Dame Zandra’s unique use of bold prints, fiercely feminine and instantly recognisable patterns and theatrical colour palettes have sealed her place in design history, while her pink hair, statement makeup and wearable art jewellery continues to stamp her personal identity on the international world of fashion.
Zandra Rhodes ‘Cactus Highway’ print, 1976.
In 2010, Dame Zandra was installed as Chancellor of UCA, a post she kept until 2018.
The exhibition Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous opens at the Fashion and Textile Museum on 27 September and runs till 26 January 2020.
For more information visit the Fashion and Textile Museum website.
To learn more about studying Fashion at UCA visit our course pages.
[Header image: Zandra Rhodes and models at Port Eliot Festival, Cornwall, 29 July 2017. © Louise Roberts.]