Posted by: SandraDeeble
May 14, 2011
Designer Zandra Rhodes tells Sandra Deeble about her favourite place to work. When Zandra Rhodes moved her work to her Fashion and Textile Museum, it was Christmas and the building had no central heating. She and her team of eight huddled around small electric heaters and tried to get things straight.
“We moved into the textile room first and then we got the print room organised. It took about a year to get it all sorted. It was agony while it was going on – and it could still do with tightening up a bit.”
Work space in the the pink and orange building, designed by Ricardo Legorreta, and nestling in Bermondsey just south of the Thames, is divided between floors, with a a textile room, a cutting room and a print room.
Oh, and the “historical junk room” with filing cabinets that Zandra sprayed pink years ago. The textile room is a long room with a row of light boxes on one side and a workbench against a wall for students.
“This room has got a beautiful northern light coming in,” she says, explaining that she usually works on new designs on a light box: “I like to turn the light on to see what I’m working on.”
But her favourite work space is the print room downstairs. “It’s so special to be in this room,” she says, “I trained as a textile printer originally so this is an area where I can relax or experiment and try things out.”
The print room could be a museum in its own right, with silk screens stacked up, some of which date back to the early 60s.
The work areas are in the museum building, but completely separate. Zandra admits that she tries to hide in the work rooms rather than popping in to the museum where people visiting the exhibition My Favourite Dress ask her to sign autographs.
She lives at the top of the building. “When I’m up there, there’s a roof garden and I can totally forget work, or I can choose to think about it. I switch off when I’m cooking. Other than that, I don’t really.”
Current work includes a new collection, the set and costumes for the opera The Pearl Fishers and things to sell in the museum shop. Outreach projects with local schools are ongoing.
“I draw in a sketch book as I’m going along,” says Zandra. When she’s working she wears a leather American workman’s belt: “they put hammers and things in them but I keep my pens and diary in it.”
Zandra starts work at 7am most days – “I only have to come downstairs” – and her first meeting is usually at 7.30. She can work until midnight “although last night it was 2am.”
Deadlines for the new collection, due to be launched in September, and the opera, opening next February in San Diego, loom. “It’s really a case of me being inspired and getting on with it.”
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