Born in Kent, Rhodes's creative prowess was apparent from an early age. She studied textile design at the Royal College of Art alongside future art-giants David Hockney and Derek Boshier. From her studies, she gained an interdisciplinary approach that has seen her blur the perimeters of textile design, painting, performance and fashion design.
In celebration of her five decades of design, the Fashion and Textile Museum has staged the largest-ever homage to Rhodes, traversing fifty years of a fascinating and varied career. It's a homecoming of sorts - Rhodes founded the Fashion and Textile Museum in 2003. The exhibition presents brings her distinctive vision to life through archive looks, billowing textiles and the animated sketchbooks that serve as the starting point for everything Rhodes designs.
The garments on display are varied and far reaching, each equipped with its own unique character. Take, for example, a punk wedding dress from 1977 - slashed and punctured with safety pins and chains - or a rich gold evening bodice and skirt famously worn by Diana Ross in the '80s.
Further highlights include avant-garde designs for the English National Opera’s production of ‘Aida’, as well as designs worn by Diana, Princess of Wales, Freddie Mercury, Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Harry, Kate Moss and HRH Princess Michael of Kent.
And while the glorious curation of archive collections shines bright on the first floor, head upstairs for a different kind of treat. First up, a dream-like maze of hanging, printed silk-screened textiles. Then, a raucous display of the costumes Rhodes designed for the San Diego Opera - The Magic Flute, The Pearl Fishers and Aida.
But the real gems of the exhibition lie in the final room, where Rhodes's sketchbooks create a stunning, animated visual language. Think spirited illustrations of lilies and succulents, or fashion illustrations interrupted by Rhodes's scrawled thoughts. They anchor her free-spirited, bohemian creations to a concept, and create a dialogue between source material and printed textile.
If you're in Bermondsey, be sure to visit this kaleidoscopic homage to one of British fashion's golden girls.
|What||Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous, Fashion & Textile Museum|
|Where||Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey St, London, SE1 3XF | MAP|
|Nearest tube||London Bridge (underground)|
27 Sep 19 – 26 Jan 20, Check website for daily opening
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|