Zandra Rhodes: Style Patterns

September 24, 2015 § 3 Comments

Zandra Rhodesand Rembrandt's Portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014

Zandra Rhodes and Rembrandt’s portrait of Catrina Hooghsaet, 2014. Image via the National Gallery.

Last week, Zandra Rhodes returned to London Fashion Week for her Spring 2016 collection. Famous for her colourful, hand-drawn prints, the bohemian cult favourite is also new to Vogue Patterns for Winter/Holiday 2015: Vogue 1472 is the first new Zandra Rhodes sewing pattern in thirty years. (Update: read a profile in Vogue Patterns magazine.) For knitters, the current issue of Rowan Knitting & Crochet has a Zandra Rhodes jacket pattern available as a free download.

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment - Rowan 58 (Winter 2015)

Zandra Rhodes sketch with yarn charts and sample garment in Katy Bevan, “Dame Zandra’s Knitting Circle” in Rowan Knitting & Crochet 58 (Winter 2015). Image via Rowan.

Born in Chatham, Kent, Zandra Rhodes (b. 1940) trained as a textile designer at Medway College of Art, where her mother was a lecturer, and London’s Royal College of Art. Rhodes founded her own label in order to build garments around her prints. Her first, 1969 collection, Knitted Circle, was famously worn by Natalie Wood in Vogue magazine; the evening coat is now in the collection of the V&A:

Natalie Wood wears a screen-printed felt evening coat and silk chiffon dress, both by Zandra Rhodes. Vogue, January 1970. Photo: Gianni Penati. Image via Youthquakers.

Rhodes became known as the Princess of Punk following her Spring 1977 torn and safety-pinned Conceptual Chic collection, which was partly inspired by Schiaparelli’s Tears dress.

Wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes' Spring 1977 collection

A wedding dress and dress from Zandra Rhodes’ Spring 1977 collection at the PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibit, 2014. Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

By the 1980s Rhodes was designing for Princess Diana. The princess wore this pink chiffon dress, embellished with crystal beads and pearl droplets, during her 1986 state visit to Japan (now in the collection of Historic Royal Palaces):

Zandra Rhodes sketch for Princes Diana. Image via SDNews.

In 1985, Style Patterns released a handful of Zandra Rhodes sewing patterns. Rhodes was among the first designers to be included in the company’s short-lived designer line. (See my earlier posts on Bruce Oldfield and Frederick Fox.)

Style 4399 is a pattern for a wedding or evening dress in two lengths with characteristic serated frill:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4399

Style 4399 by Zandra Rhodes (1985) Image via Etsy.

Style 4399 schematic

Back view for Style 4399 (1985)

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Lined Wedding Dress or Evening Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has shoulder yoke with serrated frill and pointed cape effect on bodice. Skirt has elasticated waistline. Model 1 bead trim is used on yoke and neck tie. Suggested fabrics: Lightweight silk types, crepe de chine, chiffon, shantung, lace, voile, batiste, organza. Lining: Jap silk, crepe de chine. Trim: wide ribbon and pearl beading or narrow ribbon.

Style 4400 is an off-the-shoulder wedding or bridesmaid’s dress with separate petticoat:

1980s Zandra Rhodes formal dress pattern - Style 4400

Style 4400 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4400 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4400 (1985)

The envelope description reads: Misses’ Half-Lined Wedding Dress or Bridesmaid’s Dress and Petticoat — Dress has flounced bodice with elasticated waist. Skirt has layered net frills, with gathered net and ribbon trim. Bride and bridesmaid’s dress has petticoat in fabric and net. Suggested fabrics: Dress, Models 1 and 2: Organza, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, lightweight lace. Lining: silk types, taffeta, satin (nap irrelevant). Net or tulle: silk, nylon. Trim: wide ribbon, sequin trim, narrow ribbon.

The third dress design, Style 4400, has a low back décolletage and multi-tiered skirt:

1980s Zandra Rhodes dress pattern - Style 4495

Style 4495 by Zandra Rhodes (1985)

Style 4495 schematic

Technical drawing for Style 4495 (1985)

You can see the same pattern with updated envelope here.

Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Dress in Two Lengths — Dress has fitted bodice with elasticated waistline. Models 1 and 3 have bodice frill to waistline. Model 2 has shorter bodice frill. Models 1 and 2 have four-tiered skirt flounce. Model 3 has three-tiered skirt flounce. Suggested fabrics: Chiffon, georgette, voile, silk or synthetic sheers, organza. Also: lightweight lining fabric. Trim: wide ribbon; pearl trim (views 1 and 2).

The designs seem to be from Rhodes’ Spring 1985 collection, Images of Woman:

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 a

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

Zandra Rhodes SS1985 b

Zandra Rhodes Spring/Summer 1985 collection. Image via UCA Library.

The trim and fabric specifications are catalogues of girliness: lightweight, floaty fabrics to be trimmed with the ribbon, sequins, and pearls. I love how Style 4495 suggests lining fabric as an alternative—perhaps with a budget-conscious youth market in mind.

For more on Zandra Rhodes, see the V&A’s article.

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