The Art of Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes decided to reprint this book herself and establish Zandra Rhodes Publications as the book had gone out of print and there were numerous requests from design students and art followers. What started as an honest, down-to-earth record of her work has become the ultimate reference book for students wanting to study the thought processes behind her designs - spanning from beginning of her career until 1981. It describes how ideas are translated from her original sketchbook drawing, into a textile design, and then into the final garment.


Textile Design

Final Garment

The originality and genius of Zandra Rhodes is recognized around the world, and it is sights and impressions from around the world which have so often stimulated her art. From the aerial view of a Mexican sombrero to the wiggle of the Great Wall of China, images have met her eye and been interpreted through her own intensely personal vision, boldly making their way into the highest realms of fashion. In looking back over sixteen celebrated years of printing and designing she has been intrigued by the quixotic way in which her themes have related to journeys of various kinds. In resolving to chart these, she has aimed to pin down the creative process itself, in order to share it with others. The result is a book of absorbing interest and visual splendor.

Her ‘departure point’ on this Fashion Odyssey was the realization that she and her textile designs (which she had already, unconventionally physically printed onto fabric herself) had too strong a personality to fit into other designers’ fashions. So she made clothes the way she wanted them to be, letting the textiles influence the garment shapes - creating prints, printing, designing clothes, patternmaking, cutting out dresses and hand-rolling edges all herself. She still works fourteen hours a day, seven days a week.

In New York she became absorbed with American Indian Culture. She glued feathers to the ends of her then dyed green hair and later put on her first sensational fashion show of ‘Elizabethan slashed silk’, a startling outcome of researches into her own English roots and glorious American tribalism. In Paris the three-dimensional quality of frills diverted her and the and the Zandra Rhodes dinosaur coat was born. Her famous ‘lovely lilies’ first flowered in Japan and a profusion crept into her collections, into her trademark and eventually into textile history at the Victoria and Albert Museum. By Zandra Rhodes magic a shell-covered basket bought at a garage sale in Woodstock, New York, conjured up a ‘Seashell Show’ at the Savoy and the lace bridal dress Princess Anne wore for her engagement photographs by Norman Parkinson. Unearthly reflections of light on Australia’s Ayers rock prompted a time of radical rethinking and exquisite creation. The Organ Pipe Cactus Monument, country and western music and ‘Nudie, the cowpoke tailor’ set in motion the ‘Zandra Rhodes Cactus cowboy Collection’. Aztec temples, Peking Opera, Masai tribespeople - all were starting points for inventions uniquely and deliciously Zandra Rhodes.

The renowned Zandra Rhodes Fashion Shows were pure theatre. She is herself a walking showcase, having (ten years before anyone else) sported every colour of hair and having (with striking cosmetics) always created her own ideal of a total look. But what emerges as much as anything in this book is what a delightfully practical and fun-loving - though hardworking - person she is. Having kept complete archives of her every drawing, print and original garment (nearly 2,000 of them) she lays a captivating array of samples before us and presents her methods with clarity and straightforward enthusiasm. Here is a magnificent, lavishly illustrated record of a three-dimensional artist whose impact on haute couture has been immense and who will no doubt continue to beguile us (always several fashion steps ahead) far into the future. This beautiful book would inspire anyone!