Zandra Rhodes

Becoming a Professional Fashion Designer

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B. September 19, 1940 Birthplace: Chatham, Kent, England

Awards: Designer of the Year, English Trade Fashion, 1972

Royal Designer Industry, Royal Society of Arts, 1977

Fellow of the Society of Industrial Arts, 1978

Moore College of Art Award, Philadelphia, 1978

Emmy Award, Best Costumes, "Romeo and Juliet on Ice," 1979

British Designer, Clothing and Export Council and National Economic

Development Committee, 1983 Women of Distinction Award, Northwood Institute, Dallas, 1986 Number One Textile Designer, Observer Magazine, 1990 Hall of Fame Award, British Fashion Council, 1995 C.B.E. (Commander of the British Empire, Queen Elizabeth II), 1997

Zandra Rhodes was born to a working-class family. Her mother, a fitter at the House of Worth, instilled her love of fashion and a strong work ethic in Rhodes at an early age. Rhodes attended Medway College of Art from 1959 to 1961 to study screen printing and lithography where she was inspired by textile design instructor Barbara Brown. In 1961 Rhodes reci-eved a scholarship to attend the Royal College of Art, and she graduated in 1964 with a degree in home furnishings textile design.

After college, Rhodes established a dressmaking firm with Sylvia Ayton in 1964 and a textile design studio with Alexander McIntyre in 1965, and she became a partner and designer in the Fulham Clothes Shop from 1967 to 1968. Struggling to establish herself, Rhodes worked as a freelance designer from 1968 to 1975, producing her first apparel line in 1969 which was purchased by Fortnum and Mason. In 1975 Rhodes launched Zandra Rhodes UK, Ltd., and Zandra Rhodes Shops, Ltd., with partners Anne Knight and Ronnie Stirling.

Rhodes is primarily known as a print designer and colorist. She entered the fashion industry during 1960s swinging London, and was influenced by pop artists Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol as well as textile designer Emilio Pucci. Rhodes draws her inspiration from everyday objects, nature, and textures. She works by repeatedly sketching motifs until they are highly stylized and abstract. Her prints contain whimsical interpretations of lipstick tubes, lightbulbs, shells, lilies, chain knits, laces, ruffles, and feathers. Rhodes brought the pop art of the 1960s to textile design and, in turn, to apparel design. The silhouettes of Rhodes's apparel are dictated by the textile design. Her tendency to design large-scale directional motifs places limitations on the apparel she can design. Rhodes primarily designs garments with long flowing panels to show her textiles motifs to their full advantage.

Rhodes has expanded her business through several product lines and licensing aggreements. In 1976 she licensed Wamsutta to produce her first collection of bedding, in 1977 she launched a line of lingerie, and in 1991 she created a line of men's ties from her signature prints. Faberge introduced Zandra Rhodes, her first fragance, in 1983, followed by Brut Royale for men. In 1996 Rhodes launched Zandra Rhodes II, a ready-to-wear collection featuring hand-painted silks, followed by the "Zandra by the Sea" ready-to-wear collection in 1997. She also contributed costume designs to the 1970 production of Georgy and designed costumes for the rock group Queen. See also: Emilio Pucci.


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