Exhibition celebrating fashion design legend Dame Zandra Rhodes opens at Aberdeen Art Gallery


The largest exhibition dedicated to legendary British fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes has opened at the Aberdeen Art Gallery.

The North East venue is the first to showcase 50 Years of Fabulous outside of London and will give locals a taste of Rhodes’ creative process and what inspires it.

Organized by the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, where the exhibition premiered in 2019/2020, the comprehensive retrospective examines 50 years of a fascinating and varied career, showcasing influential looks, original textiles and archival material from the creator.

Her unique use of bold prints, feminine and recognizable patterns, and theatrical color palettes have sealed her place in design history, while her pink hair, trendy makeup, and wearable art jewelry continue to mark her place. personal identity in the international fashion world.

The exhibit features 50 looks – one for each year of Rhodes’ career: from a 1969 ankle-length kaftan, screen-printed in chiffon, to a 2021 caftan in recycled polyester, which is part of the designer‘s collaboration. KARISMATISK with IKEA.

In the exhibition gallery, a multi-level central plinth in the designer’s signature bright pink color showcases more than 25 eye-catching sets.

Elsewhere in the exhibit, individual gold plinths showcase pieces from the designer’s early years, highlighting characteristic patterns and styles that recur and evolve throughout her career.

A muslin forest of nearly 30 hand-designed screen-printed textiles hangs in rows, filling part of the floor-to-ceiling exhibition space, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the original versions of some of the most renowned prints. of the designer throughout her career.

A collection of his original drawings is also on display, along with larger-than-life reproductions of his illustrations.

Rhodes is a constant designer, using her everyday sketches to create her prints, which in turn inform her clothes. The rare examples on display in Aberdeen offer new insight into a design process that has remained largely unchanged over the past 50 years.

Other key pieces on display included the Shell Collection A / W 1972 chiffon dress, still produced today for Matches; examples from the A / H 1981 Gold Renaissance collection, the looks of which were featured in the Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2019; The highly influential punk-inspired Conceptual Chic from 1976-77 and the calico quilted coat from the Ukraine and Chevron Shawl collection from 1969.

Other must-have pieces include examples of models worn by some of the biggest names in royalty and rock and roll, including Diana, The Princess of Wales, Freddie Mercury, Elizabeth Taylor, Kate Moss and HRH Princess Michael of Kent.

Dame Zandra Rhodes said: ‘I am truly delighted that 50 Years of Fabulous is finally opening in Aberdeen after having to be postponed to 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I have worked closely with the team at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London on the development of the exhibition, and I think it beautifully represents my love of textiles and my constant creativity.

“There is a wonderful range of clothing and fabrics on display, and I’m also happy to share some of my designs and sketchbooks.

“I still draw every day and hope visitors to the exhibition get a glimpse of my creative process and what inspires me.”

Fashion and Textile Museum in London, Collections and Curatorial Officer Gill Cochrane, said: “The exhibit was originally supposed to be here last year, but we were wiped out by the pandemic. It’s fantastic. to see it finally in place, we waited a long time.

“All of the modeling clothes represent one year in the career of Dame Zandra Rhodes.

“We also have a selection of textiles in the muslin forest which is a very nice way to present her different models because she is first and foremost a textile designer.

“Plus we have her textbooks. She’s a prolific designer and draws every day. We’re very lucky to have several of her notebooks and some enlargements.

“And we also have some of the costumes that she designed for stage outfits. She’s a very flamboyant person and working with stage costumes is something that really speaks to her.

“She’s designed for three different operas, stage clothes for Queen’s Freddie Mercury and Brian May; and we also have Barbara Streisand’s outfit here.

“It’s such a fantastic space, the gallery is beautiful and it’s a perfect setting to show these items.”

Collections and Curatorial Officer at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London Gill Cochrane (left) and Advisor Marie Boulton at the Zandra Rhodes exhibition.

Culture spokesperson Marie Boulton said: “This is the first time he’s been out of London and it’s a big blow to the North East.

“It’s another amazing exhibit for the art gallery just in time for Christmas and it’s something really spectacular for people to come and see.

“What we’ve tried to do is have a variety of shows, so we’re appealing to as large an audience as possible.”


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Joseph E. Golightly