Monday, June 7, 2010

Zandra Faire!

I must admit that in the late 1970’s when I first became aware of Zandra Rhodes, I was not that captivated with her or her fashions. Instead I was following the classic chic of Givenchy and Yves Saint Laurent down the catwalk. I remember one particular season where Givenchy was showing wonderful polka dotted crepe de chine dresses in red and white or blue and white with the most wonderfully high two tone spectator pumps. Ms. Rhodes was a bit too arty and bohemian for the polished elegance I was interested in; however she was always present, not letting me forget that she was there, with her glam macquillage and shocing pink hair.

Given time over the years my opinion has changed and I look at Zandra Rhodes’ clothes in a new light, fully appreciative of the gorgeous fabrics, colours and designs. Ms Rhodes herself has kept her signature shocking pink hair and her sense of hard style over the years to put an undeniable stamp on the fashion world. The unique use of bold prints, fiercely feminine patterns and theatrical use of colour gives her garments a timeless quality that makes them unmistakably a Rhodes creation.

Fashion ran in Ms. Rhodes’ blood with her mother being a fitter for Worth, when they were still in business. Early designs were considered to outrageous for the somewhat conservative English public and even at odds with the space age designs being advocated by the Parisians across the channel.
Her fabrics are beautiful with many being hand painted or screen printed which translate perfectly into her design aesthetic. Her main inspiration comes from the organic forms of nature, to create clear, creative statements, dramatic but graceful, bold but feminine. Always the innovator, she has reversed seams and exposed them, and was one of the first to use safety pins to hold clothing together during the punk era. The 1977 pink and black jersey collection with holes and beaded safety pins earned her the name of "princess of punk".

Her clients have been as diverse as Royalty (Diana, Princess of Wales and HRH Princess Michael of Kent), Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Onassis, Debbie Harry, Kylie Minogue and the late Isabella Blow.

Of course there have been the collaborations that have extended from cosmetics, shoes and china; however none of her designs are commercial parodies which have been overdone. They are a true representation of her and her work. Now she designs for the theatre and opera and numerous other projects.

This is one woman, whose savoir faire just keeps evolving, and I am glad that I now appreciate her work for what it is; beautiful artistic clothes and designs that stand the test of time!

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