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Interview With Zandra Rhodes

16 July 2013 | Nicky Charlish

"The UK still leads with edginess and also with colourful print concepts, they're different from the rest of the world"

Since the Seventies, Zandra Rhodes has been lighting-up the catwalk with her designs. She has a place in fashion history, especially with her technique of using textile design to create the shapes of her garments. Her own appearance - the purple hair, the dangly earrings - is just as eye-catching as her work! Now she has an exhibition of Rhodes-tinted visions to excite and delight us.

London Calling: You have currently an exhibition about your life's work. Can you tell us more about it?

Zandra Rhodes: We have chosen to be an aspect of my work...not my life's work. The Conceptual Chic collection of tears, chains and beaded safety pins from 1977 and my exotic embroidered dresses of the 1980s, along with my sketchbook dresses.

LC: The sixties and seventies were exciting times for fashion. How does today's fashion scene compare with them?

ZR: The UK still leads with edginess and also with colourful print concepts, they're different from the rest of the world.

LC: At present, there's a big emphasis on vintage fashion. How do you feel about that?

ZR: The youth of the day have realised that fabulous things have been created since the 60’s. Treasures hidden away and unseen!

LC: Do you still work in the United States as well as Britain? If so, how do you manage to juggle life on both sides of the Atlantic?

ZR: I still work an 18 hour day either side of the Atlantic! In Del Mar, my other home, I am involved with many fundraising dress shows and have a large customer base. Additionally, it's not just travelling to and from the USA, I have a retrospective exhibition travelling the world! "Zandra Rhodes: A Lifelong Love Affair with Textiles"is now going to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

LC: Your mother, who taught at Medway College of Art, was an inspirational figure for you. How is your Fashion and Textile Museum [in Bermondsey] fulfilling that role today, especially for children from artistically-deprived backgrounds?

ZR: The Fashion and Textile Museum aims to give exposure to UK textile and fashion talent that the world has sometimes ignored, eg: Lucianne Day, Bill Gibb and soon to come: David Sassoon. The museum, additionally, has welcomed local children form the community.

LC: Your museum was designed by renowned architect Ricardo Legorreta. Who are your favourite architects? What is attractive about their work?

ZR: I had followed the work of Legorreta and felt his use of colour and wonderful spaces had a lot in common with my own design and colour. Currently we have some fabulous practising architects: Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Piers Gough...These have introduced great shapes and colour to the UK landscape also.

LC: What projects have you got lined-up for the future?

ZR: Projects currently on the go are: flower fairies of the California Chapparal, cataloguing my collection, Aida (the opera) in October in Houston, Texas, my travelling retrospective exhibition "Zandra Rhodes: A Lifelong Love Affair with Textiles"going to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, and hopefully more opera!

LC: How do you relax?

ZR: Sketching on a holiday with my friends. Opening my mind and letting new "pictures" come in! Cooking for and entertaining my friends also!

LC: What's good about the London cultural scene?

ZR: Originality, surprises and newness.

LC: Finally, what do you like about London in general?

ZR: It's where I started...it keeps me on my toes! There’s lots happening!

 

The Zandra Rhodes:Unseen exhibition is on at the Fashion and Textile Museum until the 31 August. For more information on Zandra herself, please vist the Zandra Rhodes website

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