Zandra Rhodes

Zandra Rhodes made her San Francisco Opera debut in 2004 with her designs for The Pearl Fishers. She was born in Kent, England in the 1940s and was introduced to the world of fashion by her mother, who was a fitter in a Paris fashion house and a teacher at Medway College of Art. Rhodes studied first at Medway and then at the Royal College of Art in London. Her major area of study was textile design. Her early textile fashion designs were considered too outrageous by the traditional British manufacturers, so in 1969 she established her own retail outlet in the fashionable Fulham Road in West London. Zandra’s own lifestyle has proved to be as dramatic, glamorous and extroverted as her designs. She was one of the new wave of British designers who put London at the forefront of the international fashion scene in the 1970s. Her designs have always been clear, creative statements, dramatic but graceful, bold but feminine, and her garments have a timeless quality that makes each one of them unmistakably a Rhodes creation. Zandra’s inspiration has always been from organic material and nature. Her innovative approach to the construction of garments can be seen in her use of reversed exposed seams and in the stylistic use of jeweled safety pins and tears during the punk era. Over the years, she has had many academic and professional honors bestowed upon her; she was made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.