"Princess of Punk" Zandra Rhodes
At the Long Beach Agenda trade show last week, the infamous British fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes was casually standing by a tent, a printed one she designed. The pearl and safety pin pattern was one she said emulates her punk aesthetic. FieldCandy, a design-led brand of tents, features rare work by artists, designers and photographers, coined “practical outdoor art.”
Rhodes, who was commissioned to create a tent, has an extensive background in textile design. In the early 1960s, she studied at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London. The fashion and textile designer is known for her clean construction, complex silhouettes and exposed seams. She helped put London fashion on the map in the 1970s, creating garments with a unique perspective and a dramatic point of view.
The punk enthusiast has years of experience under her belt, having dressed Princess Diana, designed costumes for Freddy Mercury of Queen and currently has two dresses in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s (MET) latest exhibition “Punk: Chaos to Couture.” The gowns are from her “Conceptual Chic” collection of 1977; a “Wedding Dress” and a black gown, featuring beaded safety pins and metal-ball chains.
The 72-year-old designer splits her time from her home in Del Mar and London, continuing to make her mark in fashion. Her countless efforts and contributions are difficult to track; she owns a jewelry and handbag collection, incorporating vintage textiles into her work. She founded the Fashion and Textile Museum which opened in 2003. Just this past March, Rhodes, along with Joanna Lumley, helped the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) launch a Jisc-funded “Digital Study Collection,” showcasing 500 pieces from Rhodes' private archive, including illustrations, early sketches and tutorials.
Her informal moniker, “Princess of Punk,” encapsulates her eclectic, unorthodox and iconoclastic design approach. Some of her supporters included Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as fashion icons Bianca Jagger, Sarah Jessica Parker and fellow designers Tom Ford and Anna Sui.