Friday, 7 March 2014

Zandra Rhodes

Around the age of twelve, I became interested in fashion and it started with a pair of yellow dungarees.
Of course, being twelve in 1986 ensured I didn't have to seek out fashion, because fashion sought out me. Rather, I was positively clobbered over the head with it, a bit like Timmy's mallet flying towards my head at lightening speed. Because in the Eighties, fashion was hard to ignore.

My opportunity to step out into the world of patent plastic and clashing neons happened when Mum handed me The Catalogue and for the first time. This time I was allowed to choose for myself. So, like my heroine Keren Woodward, I chose banana-yellow dungarees, and I complimented this with banana eye-shadow. Before I knew it I was hot-footing it down to Chelsea Girl in High Wycombe's Frogmore. And thanks to that now defunct shop I became the proud owner of a cerise shirt dress, matching cerise tights and patent-pointed ballet pumps. To complete the look, I lazily and predictably selected a cluster of cerise bangles. Needless to say I looked exotic that Christmas, in the same way a giant morello cherry would look if it were invited to sit on my Nan's sofa in Ebbw Vale, cautiously sipping a glass of sherry.
I remember the Madonna-inspired lace gloves, my first purchase from the newly opened centre in Milton Keynes, (imaginatively labelled the Milton Keynes Shopping Centre). And who was responsible for this unique, unmistakable explosion of madness? One woman only. Zandra Rhodes.
Starting out in the Sixties, Zandra only really came into her own in the Eighties. Designing demented fairy gowns for Diana like this one, she was unparalleled in visually marking a decade. And who better to showcase her bat-wing designs? Freddy Mercury will do.

Zandra Rhodes, CBE, RDI, born September 19, 1940, Chatham

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