Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Zandra Rhodes was a keynote speaker at a recent fashion industry event (Pure London), I was fortunate to be invited along . I’m so pleased that I made the effort to go along – a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon and I thought I would briefly share some of what she had to say with you.
Zandra has celebrated more than 50 years in the fashion industry – with so many inspirational stories to tell. She was very open is discussing her challenges and triumphs experienced during her career. ( and has just published a book (Zandra Rhodes: 50 Fabulous Years in Fashion) which, based on her talk is now on my ‘must read’ list).
Following her dream
Zandra’s mother was a dressmaker and teacher , and Zandra herself initially trained as textile designer, and taught two days a week ( Betty Jackson was one of her students) while she launched a fashion business based on the Fulham Road with a friend. Zandra started her day at 5am , then went to teach, returning to the studio later that day and continues working. She certainly put in the hours to follow her dream!
Zandra soon realised that she would also like to start designing, analysing how to set a sleeve and have clothes drape as she wanted. After an opportunity arose to work with David Bailey on a shoot, she gave up teaching and worked in her fashion business full time. Zandra has designed clothes for some of the most famous women in the world, including the late Diana, Princess of Wales, Jackie Kennedy, and Princess Anne. She designed costumes for Queen, which have been replicated for the recent Bohemian Rhapsody film.
Zandra describes her life as one of ‘lovely adventures’. The adventures continue – at 79 she has no intention of slowing down. She finds inspirations for her designs through her travels. She enjoys bridging the generations through her work. Zandra did confess to NOT embracing technology when it came to designing – she still hand draws her designs, relying on team members to digitise her work for her. She has found a way to play to her strengths.
Zandra is incredibly inspiring. She has achieved so much, and there is still so much that she wants to continue to do.