Fukia-haired Sartaj star Dame Zandra Rhodes at the pleasure of color.
British textile and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes is celebrated for her artistic prints, electric hoos and floating chiffon designs, completing her career spanning over 50 years, and her name has been recorded in fashion history. The same can be well said about her neon-pink bob and rainbow-adorned makeup – two long signatures that make her instantly recognizable and reflect the vivacity of her fictional collection.
“Pink is a very happy color,” Rhodes says of his trademark hair shadow on Zoom, his computer screen offering a glimpse inside his hot-pink London apartment. It is perched atop bright orange and (yes, you guessed it) the Pink Fashion and Textile Museum, which she founded in 2003. The vivid paintings, ceramics and furnishings around her are proof that her personal lifestyle is as glamorous and extroverted as her designs. .
Rhodes says that he has been rocking fuchsia hair since the 80s and “Pinkissimo” maintains the look by using crazy-colored semi-permanent hair coloring creams every two weeks. Recalling a point in her hair’s history, she mentions a flirtation with coloring her hair and experimenting with “things like green feathers and feathers sticking to the ends with eyelash glue”.
For her makeup, you can always count on seeing Rhodes with a thick black liner accented by generous sweeps of blue eyeshadow on her eyes, and “slightly rash” on her cheeks. Where she leaves herself in some room to play is with her lips – “I mainly wear pink clothes,” she tells of her bold lipstick shades – and eyebrows. “I had to dodge the lines, dots and dashes, he says of her evolving eyebrow game.” At the moment, I draw them with a brown pencil. “
One of British fashion’s most loved characters, Rhodes began his career in textiles by selling his vibrant prints directly to designers. But after struggling to get orders and stating that his work was at its peak, he decided to establish his own appliqué label in 1969. “I was creating stars, explosions and lipsticks and the designers wanted something more that I wasn’t,” she explains. “I felt that I had something different to connect the world with.”
She rose to fame in 1977 with the release of her Conceptual Chic collection, which introduced rebellious hips, safety pins and sink chains to socialite sets, influenced by London’s street culture. The grassroots attack earned Rhodes the nickname “Princess of Punk” and over the next several years, she became one of the well-known celebrity designers of the United Kingdom, with the likes of Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury, Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross Dressed.
A major career highlight came in 2015, when she was named Dame Commander by Princess Anne. And for his flamboyant style, Rhodes changed into Buckingham Palace that day in a vibrant blue ensemble and a hat adorned with rhinestone eggs.
Today, at the age of 80, Rhodes is not seeing any signs of slowing down, even in the face of the diagnosis of a coronovirus epidemic and cancer during the lockdown last year. (He is now in remission.) Along with his other projects, such as his foray into the world of home products for an upcoming collab with Ikea, he is the creative ambassador for a public trip called Gratitude that aims to be front-line. To celebrate. Workers of the National Health Service (NHS), England’s publicly funded health care system. Slated to launch in Birmingham this summer, the project includes creatives from the United Kingdom (Rhodes Incorporated) who are showcasing their talent in human-form sculptures that will later be auctioned, with proceeds donated to the NHS with.
As a thing to help personally spark happiness for Rhodes during the stress and uncertainty of the epidemic? “Makeup,” she replies immediately. “I never roam around the house or go out without it. Makeup is self-expression. It feels right for the world to me. “