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Zandra Rhodes : 50 fabulous years in fashion

Who is that woman on the cover of the book? A holdover, punk rock fashion designer? The appearance, clothes and art are by design, but her name is not. For over 50 years, Dame Zandra Rhodes has been actively designing textiles, clothes and anything else that she has the creative impulse to work on. Friends, designers, artists, fashion designers and colleagues pay homage to her in this collection of essays. There are fond remembrances of this iconoclast, for whom originality is not a word, but a way of life.  As they tell it, she was always full of surprises, and she still is.

Very much like Picasso, she has a strong foundational art background, but has taken off on her own, by exploring, changing and evolving her aesthetics. Zandra Rhodes’ look and work have always been visionary. From her childhood, she knew who she was, what she wanted, and what she did not want out of life. She studied at the Medway College of Art and the Royal College of Art, where her interest in textile design would be the basis for future fashion work. That strong background and interest are evident in her clothing designs: vibrant colors, bold and detailed, refined patterns are often delicately embellished with beads, pearls, ribbons. Her clothing designs were formulated around her textile patterns to show them in their full glory. The fashion designs are innovative but many are rooted in the historical work and ingenuity of Max Tilke and Mariano Fortuny. Rhodes went on to establish several businesses, and readily admits, at times, there were issues. Then in 2003, she founded the Fashion and Textile Museum

In today’s world, it is very difficult to imagine the reaction to her appearance as a major fashion designer in the 1970s. Today hot pink hair is no big deal, and may even be passé, but way back it was a bit of a jolt for some. However, that did not stop her, or others who shared her design ideas. Rhodes has designed first and foremost for her own artistic satisfaction and curiosity, but for others including: Princess Diana, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, Freddie Mercury, other well known people, and for opera and stage. 

It is possible that Dame Rhodes might object to referencing other books and resources, but here goes:

The art of Zandra Rhodes

Fashion designers A-Z : the collection of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

The fashion swatch book


Iris Apfel: accidental icon: musings of a geriatric starlet

Max Tilke

Mariano Fortuny

Rare Bird of Fashion: the irreverent Iris Apfel

Visionaries : interviews with fashion designers

The Los Angeles Public Library provides access to The Vogue Archive

An important blog: Which Pantone Color of the Year Are You?

Interview at the Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology)