London: 27 September 2019 – 26 January 2020
Last month, I finally made it to see Zandra Rhodes: 50 Years of Fabulous. The exhibition is fascinating and extraordinary, as you’d expect from such an icon. But also, the Fashion and Textile Museum itself is a real surprise. It's tucked away on Bermondsey Street. Well, when I say tucked away, it's a stop-you-in-your-tracks super tall orange building that you can't miss!
I was hoping to see spectacular textiles, bold patterns and bright prints, and this retrospective ticks all those boxes and then some. It's a unique opportunity to discover the creative spirit of Dame Zandra Rhodes, from her original sketchbooks – which are the starting point for everything she designs – to her beautiful fashion collections and truly amazing opera costumes.
On the upper floor of the exhibition, you can watch some really interesting videos of Rhodes in which she talks about her creative process. One soundbite really stood out for me:
"You need to experience looking at something and drawing it, not just taking a photo. It goes into your brain and filters something else out."
Follow the Rhodes rule and do a drawing every day! I also love the fact that nothing is ever removed or deleted from her sketchbooks. Whether it goes on to become a print or not, everything has merit and is valued.
One thing that this retrospective does really well is present the Rhodes process, or as she describes it 'a Butterfly' which is the creation of a garment. The details presented here are really special. Her whole approach is so fascinating and I think anyone who is interested in design or textiles, or even if you just enjoy getting a peek into the mind of a successful designer, you'll find lots to spark the imagination here.
Dame Zandra Rhodes is undeniably the queen of printed textiles. But more than that, she is such an inspiration – a true creative force.
You can find more details about the Fashion and Textile Museum here.