Fashion rarely comes back exactly as it was, so sometimes a resurrected vintage piece can benefit from a subtle update. This can apply even to a piece by someone as distinctive as Zandra Rhodes, the iconic British designer who is not only still working today but has a thorough archive of her 1970s work to act as inspiration. “I have carefully archived the original of nearly every design I’ve ever made, as just documenting them doesn’t compare to seeing the actual garment”, she says, and now we have a reason to be grateful that she has.
To celebrate London Fashion Week, Matchesfashion.com is running an exclusive collaboration with Rhodes in the form of limited-edition reworkings (from £1,300) of 10 of her most loved and photographed dresses. Handmade and printed in small numbers in Rhodes’ Bermondsey atelier from silk chiffon and metallic silk, they are available from Thursday September 15 online (where there is also a digital trunk show and interview with the designer).
Rhodes worked closely with stylist Grace Woodward on the project. “We had a huge amount of fun identifying which we felt were the most meaningful dresses and then tweaking them for the modern body and current style,” says Rhodes. “For instance, in the cherry-blossom dress that was originally made at the request of Princess Diana for a state visit to Japan, we have cooled the blossom pink a few shades”. Woodward has, says Rhodes, “an intrinsic understanding of and excitement for my work, which is how the idea came about”.
Several of the original dresses appeared in era-defining photographs on models or personalities of the day, such as Pat Cleveland, Grace Coddington and Bianca Jagger (who often collaborated on designs). The new pieces are equally wearable, flaunting outstanding prints and ruffles that are classically and unmistakably Rhodes’. They were snapped up by Matchesfashion.com’s womenswear buying director Natalie Kingham, who says, “I was so inspired to see Zandra’s collection come to life again through the archive. She is a true fashion icon and her aesthetic still feels really relevant.”