28
Aug
2013

Zandra Rhodes Unseen

Any designer who freely admits that 50 per cent of her initial creations are rubbish is something of a hero. And Zandra Rhodes is nothing if not that. Marking over 50 years of pink air and exquisite designs, the Fashion and Textile Museum is currently stuffed to the rafters with her pieces to celebrate the establishment’s 10th birthday. Seeing as Zandra was the one who founded the museum a decade ago, this all makes perfect sense.

Trained as a textile designer, Rhodes’ expertise is evident. The art of creating and designing fabric that works when draped and folded over the landscape of the human body is a skill in itself. Her fierce championing of textile design as a valid route into fashion has always been something of a trademark, as is her insistence that fashion is as much an art as any other discipline.

The opening display of beaded dresses has to be the exhibition’s highlight, particularly those from the ‘Indian Saree’ show; so heavily embellished but still beautifully draped. The conceptual punk and post-punk collections are artfully placed next to each other  stark differences apparent.

Despite her reputation as ‘Princess of Punk’, Zandra Rhodes was never really a punk. The chains, safety pins and torn holes are more like subcultural references than hardcore mohawk territory. Equally, the post-punk ‘Painted Lady’ creations romanticise the punk aesthetic with jewelled pins and stitched holes  carefully edited rebellion.

My unexpected favourites were Zandra’s recent ‘Sketchbook Dresses’ which I hadn’t really studied in much detail before. These dresses feature prints taken directly from Rhodes’ sketchbooks which she fills daily with her beautiful scribbles. Oversized hair bows add just the right drama to simple block shift dresses which act as the page for the designer’s sketches.

Hurry along  the exhibition is open for another few days and is certainly a treat for the eyes. And if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration for next season’s punk inspired aesthetic, it’s just the ticket…

The Zandra Rhodes Exhibition is on until August 31 at:

The Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street
Southwark
SE1 3XF

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