Cunard presents... Dame Zandra Rhodes.
Dame Zandra Rhodes launched the first 'Fashion Week at Sea' Transatlantic Crossing in 2016. The iconic designer talks to Cunard about the fashion industry, dressing for cruising and her favorite New York hot spots. Rhodes, who has just celebrated her 80th birthday, resides alone in Bermondsey.
Growing up as a young girl in Kent, what did fashion and design mean to you?
Fashion was really something seen through my mother’s eyes when I was a young girl.
She was a fitter at The House Worth in Paris and an exotic lady, I was always in awe (and slightly embarrassed) of her eclectic hats and accessories!
Kent was a massive influence in my young artistic self; I would often draw the landscape of Medway.
What are your fondest memories of your Cunard voyage?
The people I met on the Cunard trip in 2016 gave me the fondest memories! I am still in touch with many of them and often invite them round for tea and a catch-up. There is such spirit and high energy on Queen Mary 2, it really is so special.
Post Covid-19, what do you think the fashion industry will look like?
I think the industry will be driven more by technology. Brand collaborations will be the future, and fashion week will be more inclusive - as we already see with the merging of men's and women’s to a more gender-fluid platform.
What should guests pack for a Cunard Transatlantic Crossing?
- A fabulous Zandra Rhodes screen printed gown, hand-embellished with Swarovski crystals of course!
- A giant straw hat - similar to the one I donned on The Real Marigold Hotel. Great to keep from the sun. Just make sure it doesn’t blow off in the blustery sea wind!
- A pair of pleated trousers, perfect dress-up and dress-down attire.
- A kaftan to throw on by the pool or dressed up with jewels for lunch.
- A chiffon printed silk scarf... which can be used as a sarong, a cover-up or even a hair turban.
You've collaborated with Valentino, Topshop, Mac Cosmetics and are about to launch Zandra Rhodes x IKEA. Who would you love to collaborate with next?
IKEA was always my dream collaboration. Coming from a textile and interior background, I've done a full circle and gone back to my roots! I am so lucky to have had the chance to work with the fabulous IKEA team and create our Karismatisk Collection which is due in stores in September 2021. I'd love to do something with a hair brand. Pink dye, anyone?!
Your partner Salah sadly passed away in 2019. Did your relationship inspire your work throughout the years?
Salah was a workaholic, as am I. We fuelled one another’s ambition and drive. We would often stay up in the office of our Californian beachside home until the early hours working. He was my companion, he understood me and my work ethic.
Through Salah I was able to meet Ricardo Legorreta, the top Mexican architect, and together we set up the Fashion and Textile Museum in London.
Are there any rising stars in the fashion industry we should look out for?
Protégé to my great friend David Sassoon of Bellville Sassoon. Nabil makes the most gorgeous pleated creations (perfect for cruise). Truly romantic and feminine with wonderful historic references.
You often talk of your love for New York. What does an average day look like when you visit?
What is your most treasured item from your travels?
My postcards! I save them in giant ring binders like prized possessions. They aren’t only from where I have traveled, but from where my friends have traveled too. They are my mementos.
Who would you want to play you in a film of your life?
My darling friend Barbara Streisand who opened her most recent show in Hyde Park in a Zandra Rhodes bespoke creation.
Or Meryl Streep, she just has so much character.
And finally, what are you doing for Christmas?
Christmas Day will see me waking up in the Welsh countryside at my dearest friend, Andrew's. We will spend the day doing jigsaw puzzles and dressing up with fab Xmas hats and doing wonderful English party games- now a bit more difficult with three!
We will watch the Queen's speech and will be wearing red and green outfits. After lunch, we will take a walk - probably passing Andrew's gorgeous little hotel: The Lion of Berriew.