By Diane Welch
The Fashion and Textile Museum (FTM) in Bermondsey, London brimmed over with guests who attended a VIP champagne reception on July 11, launching a special exhibition, “Zandra Rhodes: Unseen.” The color-drenched show brought into clarity Rhodes’ dramatic haute couture fashion career, which has spanned almost five decades.
Curated by Dennis Nothdruft, the exhibition is also a celebration for the 10-year anniversary of FTM founded by Rhodes – who lives in Del Mar and in London – in May 2003. Rhodes first bought the building – which is now painted bright pink and orange – in 1995 and hired leading Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta to do the remodel.
Three months in development, Rhodes had to hunt out individual pieces for the exhibition, she said. Rhodes’ workroom studio printed out the fabric designs that served as the backdrop for the collections and hours of footage of Rhodes’ fashion shows were transferred to DVD to show at the museum.
Several of Rhodes’ lesser-known archived fashion creations were on display with her most recent collections and new lines of handbags, accessories, shoes and make-up.
Hand-beaded dresses from the 1980s were pulled from archived trunks and private collections. Several of these designs were inspired by Rhodes’ landmark trip to India; natives hand-worked the exquisite embroidery and bead work that is as fresh today as it was almost 30 years ago.
Rhodes’ line of punk-inspired garments from the Conceptual Chic Collection, with artfully-cut, slashed and safety-pinned details, were no less shocking than the 1977 launch which ensured Rhodes’ fame as the “Princess of Punk.” Several pieces of this collection are currently on display at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, said Rhodes.
Videos of Rhodes’ 1980 catwalk events, and vignette showcases of her conceptual “style bibles” and notebooks – never seen before publicly – were also exhibited, along with more recent garments from Rhodes’ 2012 Sketchbook Collection.
At the reception, museum director Celia Joicey introduced Rhodes, flanked by fashion designer to the British royals David Sassoon and fashion jewelry designer Andrew Logan. Despite the over-sized joke scissors failing to cut the pink ribbon, the exhibition was officially opened and will run until Aug. 31.
Photographer Barry Lategan, acclaimed for his fashion shots featured in Vogue, captured the evening’s event on film with his camera. The reception brought together many notable figures from London’s vibrant fashion scene, including interior and textile designer Sue Timney, actress Fenella Fielding and fine artist Duggie Fields, who commented that the show was “inspired, surprising, and varied,” and that Rhodes’ output “crossed cultures, trends, and tastes with an always unique and optimistic, colorful, vision.”
Rhodes, 72, was animated, wearing a purple two-piece satin garment, Logan’s bold jewelry, and sporting her signature bubble-gum pink hair and theatrical make-up.
“It was wonderful to be able to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the museum with this exhibition,” said Rhodes.
The exhibition was very well presented visually, said guest Vicky Ogden, head of accessories and footwear, Pure London. “The excitement knowing that Zandra is launching her footwear and handbag range makes the journey complete.”
for information on the exhibition and the museum.