50 Years of Style With Designer Dame Zandra Rhodes

The legendary designer worked with Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and more

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Dame Zandra Rhodes is the mastermind behind many of your favorite legends' most iconic looks. With a career spanning 50 years and counting, the British Designer has set the standard in the fashion and textile industry having designed numerous outfits for the likes of Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana, Marc Bolan, Brian May, and plenty more.

Her illustrious career has resulted in tons of awards including the 1979 Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in the Performing Arts – Costume Design, Designer of the Year" in 1972, and the Walpole British Luxury Legend Award 2019.

We had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Zandra to talk about her historic career and plans for the future. You can check out the full interview below.

ONE37pm: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Zandra! Let’s take it from the beginning. When did you first discover your love for fashion?

Rhodes: Well, I suppose it was in my childhood. My mother taught dress making at the local college (Medway College of Art which is now named University of the Creative Arts), and she used to make lovely designs, so that’s where my love originated.

ONE37pm: And when did you know that you personally wanted to make fashion a career?

Rhodes: After I left the Royal College of Art, I trained as a local textile designer, but I was told that my designs were too “bold and exaggerated” for that time. So I was having a hard time finding work. I was finally able to start receiving commissioned work, and eventually I set up my own studio. That’s when I began receiving recognition in America, and I had one of my pieces featured in Vogue with Natalie Wood.

ONE37pm: Talk to us about working more with Freddie Mercury.

Rhodes: I met Freddie and Bryan in a tiny little studio in 1974. We didn’t have a changing room for them, so they came in the evening time and I tried on that lovely pleated bridal top that Freddie loved wearing so much. It was a mutual rapport between us. Both Freddie and Bryan were both lovely and quiet. I would have them try on the clothes and tell them to move around the room like how they planned on moving on stage. Freddie was very much a rule breaker if you take into consideration how the world looked at androgyny back then.

ONE37pm: To this day, you continue to have some wonderful partnerships. What have been some of your favorites of the last five or ten years?

Rhodes: I’ve been so lucky to have a lot of amazing work like the partnership with IKEA. A lot of things have been wonderful, and I’ve been able to work quietly because of the lockdown. So it has worked out perfectly.

ONE37pm: What is your advice to aspiring designers?

Rhodes: Don’t give up, maintain enthusiasm, and I suppose probably put your production on social media and hope that it pops!

You can keep up with all of Zandra’s latest updates via her official website.

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