For some it was Bastille Day, the celebration of the start of the French Revolution. For others it was the press breakfast for Zandra Rhodes’ capsule collection for the plus size retail store Simply Be.
Bloggers and journalists were cordially invited to start the day off at the Paramount bar and restaurant at the top of Centre Point with a peek at the collection, some tasty food and fantastic views. The morning started well with the appearance of Zandra Rhodes herself, an unmistakable shock of fluoro pink hair at the far end of the room, proudly showing her work to members of the fashion industry who were gathered around her.
I’ve always wondered exactly how much input designers have in these diffusion lines and high street collaborations, so it was refreshing that the lady herself was there to chat happily about her latest project. It was clear that this is something Rhodes was heavily involved in, and eager to natter about. Indeed, she was not surrounded by PR girls doing all the talking for her (I counted only one while I was there) but sat at the bar greeting the guests and making everyone feel welcome.
Prints are Rhodes’ forte and this capsule collection is no exception. With patterns sourced from the designer’s extensive archives, the pieces are vintage Zandra Rhodes. Also recognisable is a penchant for kaftan styles – glamorous, bohemian, ever so slightly bonkers.
Available only in sizes 14 to 32, this collection seems to address the common complaint that plus size clothing lines rely heavily on the colour black and the ubiquitous wrap dress shape as a go-to style for the curvier woman. This not only makes for a lack of choice for the wearer, but also shows a distinct lack of imagination on the part of the designer.
Enter Zandra Rhodes. The colours and patterns might not be to everyone’s taste (wallflowers beware), but it’s certainly a breath of fresh air for plus size dressing. However, the colours are not garish, and the whole thing has a very sophisticated feel. Flouting doctrines that say prints and bright colours are unflattering, Rhodes’ collection is less about what one ‘should’ wear and more about having fun with fashion whatever your size.
It is obvious that Rhodes has managed to fuse both her signature style and a consideration of the woman she is dressing, and come up trumps. Unusually for a high street diffusion line, this collection feels contained and well thought-out, displaying real thought for its target audience and what they want to be wearing.
Simply Be’s launch took place at:
101-103 New Oxford Street
Tel: 020 7420 2900