Zandra Rhodes is one of the most iconic British fashion designers, who has been part of the fashion world for over 30 years. During part of Cultural exchange week at DMU, Zandra visited the university to talk to DMU’s own Julie King. The talk was very inspiring and gave an insight into the life of a fabulous woman.
Zandra didn’t have a boring childhood at all. She described her upbringing as ‘exotic’ due to the way her mother always bought exotic magazines, and was different to your average mum. Zandra’s mother was the first to inspire her to go into the world of art and textile design. But what really acted as a launch pad into the world of textiles and fashion was one of her university Tutors, who both inspired and encouraged her to get her own designs printed.
After university Zandra went into teaching to support herself, whilst designing her own clothes and trying to sell prints on the side. From there she went on to design dresses with fellow student Sylvia Ayton, and opened up a small boutique.
When Zandra first started out her textile designs and prints were considered too outrageous for the fashion world. However that was soon proven wrong, when her dresses were first showcased by Natalie Wood, in American Vogue. Since then she has become one of the most celebrated British fashion designers, dressing stars like Kylie Minogue, and even royalty.
Zandra is living proof and an icon, to not only fashion and textile students, that you can easily prove people wrong and come out on top.
During the interview Zandra was asked by Julie King about both the design process and her inspiration for her work. In response she said that she visited places all around the world such as china and India, and she disciplined herself by drawing in her sketchbook at least once a day; it didn’t even have to be fashion related. From there the drawings could be turned into something when she got back to her studio.
So what advice did she give to fashion and textile students to make it into such a tough industry?
Firstly she said be enthusiastic. Don’t be afraid to go for it; it’s better just to go for it and if you fall flat on your face at least you can say that you’ve tried. Secondly, she advised surrounding yourself with positive people, who will encourage and pull you forward. Lastly, she said be brave, and go to places, where ever the work takes you; as at the end of the day you have work, and that is the main thing.
The interview finished off by Julie King asking Zandra; ‘What would you like to be remembered for?’ In reply Zandra said she would like to be remembered for ‘doing original work’.
It’s safe to say that she will be remembered for her original work, and her bright pink hair.