This evening ensemble exemplifies the soft, layered, highly decorated "special" dresses made in the 1970s by the British couturier, Zandra Rhodes, and it was presented to the museum soon after its creation by the designer herself. The silk was commissioned by the designer and entitled "My Little Lilies" as it incorporated stylised flowers and the words lilies, leaves, grass and the name "Zandra Rhodes" itself. Japanese influence is very apparent in the wide batwing sleeves, the low v-neckline gathered to the waist and especially the kimono-style cut with wide satin sash at the waist. The two other outfits pictured below also from the 1970s show other aspects of her work, including smocking, slashing and printing, all influenced by the past.
Born in 1942, Zandra Rhodes opened her first shop in Fulham Road in 1968 and rose quickly to national success, being named Designer of the Year by the British Clothing Institute in 1972. Since then she has remained an established, if now very retro, character on the London fashion scene, still designing her romantic fantasy outfits, and master-minding her own recently-opened London museum to showcase her work over nearly 40 years. Her own appearance, which has little altered over 30 years, is also famous for its "soft punk" pink hair and dramatic make-up.
Full item descriptions:
"dress" [1975.50], Rhodes, Zandra
"dress & outfit" [1998.159], Rhodes, Zandra
"trouser suit" [1998.160], Rhodes, Zandra