Find out how the textile designer has turned her hand to jewellery.
With her often outrageous and colourful approach to design, English textiles icon Zandra Rhodes is credited with helping to put London at the centre of the global fashion map. Andrew Seymour caught up with her at the launch of her new fashion jewellery venture with jewellery brand Adele Marie to discuss future collaborations, inspirations and the star she has most enjoyed dressing.
Professional Jeweller: What prompted your recent fashion jewellery collaboration with Adele Marie?
Zandra Rhodes: First of all, I myself never go out without jewellery on — ever — even if I am wearing a T-shirt to travel in. I actually travel with necklaces and bracelets, even if I have to take it all off at the airport. It always makes me feel dressed up and I always say to the customs men I simply refuse to compromise.
PJ: Are the pieces for the Adele Marie collaboration all based on your textile designs?
ZR: Yes, some are based on textile designs in my book, and then the butterflies [designs] are a straight drawing out of stuff I have already done. They came and looked through my sketchbooks and textile designs and then took things from that which could be used. I did things for Royal Doulton which had butterflies all over them and Adele [Vanderkar — founder of Adele Marie] particularly thought the butterflies would be great. It could even be just wiggly lines, which is me. Everything is based on things that I have done for years.
PJ: Is this going to be the first of more jewellery collaborations for you?
ZR: I hope that it is the first of many years working with Adele, I don’t really want to go to a whole lot of different companies. I think that if you are going to build on something, you have to build on product that you do with people and that they love and work with.
PJ: You’ve designed for many famous clients in your career. Which one stands out as the most memorable to work with?
ZR: Zsa Zsa Gabor was the most difficult. Lauren Bacall was wonderful to work with and looked fabulous in my things, but she stepped on a pin during a fitting in my old studio and I have never seen such a look of excruciating pain. I do love dressing the Princess Michael of Kent, who is quite delightful and always looks good in things. All of them have got their own idiosyncrasies.
PJ: What makes you decide when to work on a non-fashion licence?
ZR: We look very carefully that they produce a product that, firstly, we feel is quality and, secondly, that it would be interpreted looking enough like Zandra Rhodes because if not what are you doing it for? If you’re just putting your name on something, you are cheating the customer. With Royal Doulton, people are still asking where to get it today and it was actually the bestselling line in Australia.
PJ: What do you look for in the companies that you work with on a licenced range?
ZR: Well, what you don’t want to do is put your name blindly on everything. If someone approaches us, we’ll carefully look at their product and check that the quality is okay, that it is right for us and that they have got enough of a name and an outlet that they are not just using my name to get people to their product, but that it is really expanding their product to give them more depth in the market.
This interview was taken from the November issue of Professional Jeweller. Click here to read the digital version.