Home CommentaryStudent Life Off the Catwalk and onto the Stage:

Off the Catwalk and onto the Stage:

by Archives November 4, 2008

Sporting bubblegum pink hair, electric blue eye shadow, sky-high metallic gold platforms and chunky jewelry, British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes’ appearance is as unique as her designs.
Rhodes was at Place Des Arts last Wednesday to showcase her Fall 2008/Spring 2009 collection and to attend L’Opéra de Montréal’s dress rehearsal of The Pearl Fishers, for which she designed the costumes.
The collection featured something for everyone, which just so happened to be Rhodes’s intention.
“I simply wanted women to feel beautiful whether they’re a slender stick, or they’re like me,” said Rhodes as she pointed to her hips.
A recurring runway look was printed mini dresses over shiny black leggings and opaque black tights. Metallic gold and silver were everywhere, from detailing on dresses and blouses to leggings and shoes. Lightweight silk chiffon dresses and tops in varying lengths, with colours ranging from muted pinks and blues to vibrant yellows and greens, also dominated the catwalk.
Big and bold is the best way to describe the accessories, which included a gigantic red butterfly necklace and chunky belts worn over sheer blouses. Although Rhodes says her collection wasn’t inspired by anything in particular, several of the gold and black tunics were reminiscent of Ancient Egypt.
Born in Kent in 1940 and designing since the 60’s, Rhodes only recently crossed over to costume design. Dividing her time between her homes in London and San Diego, Rhodes was approached in 2000 by the San Diego Opera to design costumes for Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Her colourful and exotic costumes were so well received that she was asked to design the costumes and sets for Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, which made its debut in 2004.
Rhodes traveled to Sri Lanka where The Pearl Fishers is said to have gained its inspiration, returning with numerous sketches. The costumes became a hit and were sent to opera houses in New York, San Francisco, Michigan and, most recently, Montreal.
“Designing for opera has been very inspirational for me. Seeing the music and the costumes together is a very moving experience,” said Rhodes.
Rhodes was introduced to fashion by her mother, a fitter at a Paris fashion house and a teacher at the Medway College of Art. It was love at first sight for Rhodes and she decided to study textile design at Medway and later at the Royal College of Art in London. Although her designs were considered too shocking at first, she has since been honoured by the fashion world for her work. When asked how she feels about being an icon, Rhodes responded, “I think it’s a great compliment, don’t you?”
One of the highlights of Rhodes’s career has been designing clothes for British royalty, including the late Princess Diana. For those of us who don’t live in Buckingham Palace, Rhodes’ designs can be found at high-end boutiques in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
Although she’s in her 60s, Rhodes has no intention of slowing down.
“I want to continue designing for my own line as well as for opera. Coco Chanel was 88 when she retired, so I have plenty of time,” she quipped.
The designer is looking forward to getting a taste of the Montreal fashion scene.
“After the dress rehearsal, I’m going to head out and finally get to see what everybody here is wearing,” concluded Rhodes.

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