THE DESIGNER REPORT : ZANDRA RHODES

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Zandra Rhodes, now 75, is busier than busy. Since arriving on the fashion scene in the mid-1960s, the British designer has dressed the who’s who of fashion, from rockstars (Freddie Mercury) to royalty (Princess Diana), been appointed a Dame and had her designs showcased in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. Today, she’s revisited her archive with the help of British stylist Grace Woodward to re-launch a limited edition capsule collection exclusively with MATCHESFASHION.COM.

‘I felt that people were interested in what I was doing and I was seeing quite a lot of copies. So when I went to the archive and I started pulling out things, I wanted to make sure they were reinvented in the right way,’ explains Rhodes. ‘It’s wonderful to have new eyes looking at things and putting them out to the rest of the world. It’s been so thrilling recreating pieces to make them a bit more sexy, very easy to wear.’
Rhodes’s trademarks – besides her signature fuchsia bob – are print and dresses. ‘I’m known for prints, but I think prints just cover a fabric and add a bit of interest. And if you are messy like me, they cover the mess!’ From her infamous Manhattan dress – based on Rhodes’s sketches of the Chrysler Building and Empire State Building (‘I’ve done it upside down so you can’t tell if it’s a building or not’; pictured, below right) – to the Diana dress, first launched in 1986, each piece is accented with Rhodes’s recognisable work – printed chiffon, knitted bodices, iridescent beading. ‘The Diana dress was originally designed in black with shocking pink pearls. It was specially made for Princess Diana in pastel pink for her trip to Japan, where I believe she fainted and it was announced she was pregnant with her first child – in my dress!’
Despite having dressed some of the world’s most famous style icons, from Jackie Onassis to Pat Cleveland, Rhodes is just as charmed at the thought of seeing her dresses on ‘all sorts of different people, in all sorts of different ways.’ She continues: ‘You don’t have to be a big personality to wear my things. I think people can develop who they want to be in my dresses. I like to think we have done a variety of colours, all representing what I am about and they are of interest to lots of women whether they want something pastel or pale. I also think they transcend age – people will be able to try them on and see that all sorts of ages can wear them. They are very easy to wear.’
On the topic of transcending age, time and trends, Rhodes herself remains as relevant as ever: ‘You talk about the most wonderful Beatles songs. They stay with you for ever. Sometimes you want to play them all the time, other times you put them away and then get them out again. I think of these designs as works of art – you could put them on a wall, and you continue to love them more and more.’

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