A sneak peak at Zandra Rhodes archived knit wear

Dame Zandra Rhodes selected ten, rarely seen, pieces of knitwear from her design archive as an exclusive for the Spring Knitting and Stitching show recently on at Olympia. Many of these pieces will be on show along with her beautiful textile designs and dresses in the exhibition 50 Years of Fabulous at the Fashion and Textile museum later this year. From 27th September to 26th January 2020

Black and Red ‘heart’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 Venetian Palazzo collection
Black ‘Magic Head’ jumper Spring/Summer 1987 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes

The acclaimed British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE founded her eponymous fashion house in 1969 with a small collection. Her prints were Pop Art-infused commentaries on the world of Sixties Britain; the designer felt that there was inherent structure within the pattern that could work with and enhance the shape and construction of a dress. With this concept as a starting point and with her distinctive approach to cut and form, the house of Zandra Rhodes soon became one of the most recognisable labels in London.

In celebration of fifty years of the Zandra Rhodes’ label, the Fashion and Textile Museum presents Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous. This retrospective will highlight 100 key looks, as well as 50 original textiles. This comprehensive exhibition will explore five decades of the distinguished career of a British design legend.

Grey jumper with pearl shoulder detail Autumn/Winter 1980 ‘Elizabethan’ collection
Rib machine knit

Black and Gold Lurex Jacket Autumn/winter 1987 ‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection Double Bed jacquard machine knit
‘Magic Head’ dress Spring/Summer 1989 ‘Venetian Palazzo’ collection
Intarsia cashmere machine knit Clan Douglas for Zandra Rhodes
Blue and Gold Lurex coat
Autun/Winter 1987
‘Wish Upon a Star’ collection
Double bed Jacquard machine knit

Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern

This summer the Fashion and Textile Museum is hosting an exhibition ‘A Life in Pattern’ showcasing the work of Orla Kiely

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This is the first exhibition to feature her work. She set up her company in 1995 after graduating from the RCA . Before that she worked as a textile designer for the company Esprit. After leaving the RCA she produced a small collection of accessories for Harrods. Originally she was producing hats. After attending a trade show with Orla, her father suggested she venture into producing bags, as he had noticed that he hadn’t seen a single woman wearing a hat but they were all carrying bags!

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Her work is inspired by the patterns of the 1950’s and 1960’s, by designers such as Mary Quant, Shirley Craven and Lucienne Day. IMG_1455

Nature is the most significant inspiration for her designs. Each design is developed carefully by drawing and refining the essential organic elements that are the foundation of her repeating designs.

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The exhibition is presented thematically rather than chronologically, and explores all aspects of Orla’s creative output, from lifestyle and fashion ranges to use of colour and detail and the geometry of pattern.

The exhibition draws on an archive of over 20 years work, offering visitors incite into her methods and concepts, exploring sketches, mood boards samples and a range of techniques.

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The exhibition charts the growth and success of the Orla Kiely brand from her first hats presented in London Fashion Week 1994 through the advent of the iconic Orla Kiely bag in the mid nineties to her freelance work for department stores undertaken from her kitchen table in 1998IMG_1472
Orla’s patterns work on any scale, and the exhibition brings a playful element with super sized dresses alongside tiny dolls in replica dresses.

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Her dresses and bags are displayed on the mezzanine floor. What strikes one after a while is that the work has evolved and is still evolving. Pieces from different collections and different years, work well together. IMG_1457

The work is beautiful, original, well thought out made to the highest standards. The exhibition is a must see. It has been put together by Dennis Nothdruff Head of Exhibitions at Fashion and Textile museum and by Mary Schoeser Exhibition curator and Textile historian. There is an excellent book published by Conran Octopus called A Life in Pattern that I shall be reviewing soon on the blog.

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