Fashion and Textile Museum celebrates 50 years of Dame Zandra Rhodes

The Fashion and Textile Museum is celebrating 50 years of one of Britain’s most iconic designers, Dame Zandra Rhodes. The exhibition, Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous, honours Rhodes’ avant-garde work by showcasing 50 of her most iconic pieces – one dress from each year of Rhodes’ successful career.

Her unique and bold designs made her a celebrity favourite, and her fashion shows have earned her a spot as fashion royalty.

One career milestone mentioned in the exhibition include pieces from 1976-1978 during which she became the infamous ‘High Priestess of Punk’. Though what she achieved was a look that was inspired by punk, it existed as, what was later dubbed, ‘Conceptual Chic’.

In 1981, Rhodes designed a grand Elizabethan gown in gold lamé which was later developed into the ‘Renaissance/Gold’ collection for Lady Diana (pre-royal wedding). 

In 2016, Rhodes was asked by Pierpaolo Piccioli to create some prints for his first collection as creative director of Valentino. The prints were inspired by the Renaissance and they were used for Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2017 show. During 2017, she launched a prosperous archive collection with Matches Fashion. 

2018 was yet another outstanding year for Rhodes as she worked on the film Bohemian Rhapsody and replicated costumes originally commissioned by Freddie Mercury and Brian May in 1976.

The museum displays 50 of Rhodes’ most iconic looks. The walls are dripping in gold fabric, reminiscent of her lamé gown. 

The Mezzanine Gallery is dedicated to her textiles, and pays homage to her process of making the prints and dresses using 30 of her own hand-designed, screen-printed textiles.  

The Fashion Studio is where many of her sketchbooks, illustrations and designs are on display. It is a known fact that Rhodes has a special relationship with her sketchbook. She has a disciplined approach to her craft which requires that she draws every day. These observational drawings are the basis of her print designs.

Dame Zandra Rhodes continues to surprise us with her breath-taking work, and she isn’t stopping any time soon. 

As for her schedule for the upcoming 2020? She has many projects coming up, one of which is from Rhodes’ latest Jubilee Collection recalling her iconic kaftan collection. 

If you’re interested in exploring her magnificent work, book your tickets online until 26th January. Ticket prices run £7 for students and £9 for adults. 


Words: Martina Chausheva 

Photos: Martina Chausheva


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