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QUICKFIRE: Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes on pink hair, purple shoes and an iconic cream top

‘Money? There’s no point sitting on it, you’ve got to spend it’

Guilty pleasure?

Eating chocolate, although I try not to have it in the house. I quite like See’s Candies, an American brand that people tend to bring as gifts.

Where is home?

I have a penthouse that I adore on top of the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, London, which I founded in 2003. I also share a beachfront home in San Diego, California, with my partner of 30 years [former film executive Salah Hassanein].

Career plan B?

I’ve never had time to think about a plan B – doing what I do has taken up all my time.

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

It would be lovely to be played by a very glamorous film star, even though it would be a bit of a distortion! Perhaps Salma Hayek, as long as you put a pink wig on her.

As a child you wanted to be…

I remember once saying that I would like to be a millionaire. I never became one, but I’ve dressed millionaires.

Earliest memory?

Drawing chalk butterflies on an air-raid shelter in the back garden of my childhood home in Chatham, Kent, during the Second World War.

Secret to a happy relationship?

You have to give someone the freedom to do their own thing.

Your best quality?

Hard work.

And your worst?

Hard work, because I don’t have a work-life balance. In fashion, you can never take a break.

Last meal on earth?

I love cooking for my friends and make a pretty mean green pea soup and poached salmon with a wonderful Mexican salsa – and I love bread and butter pudding with double cream. So, nothing slimming!

Dream dinner-party guests?

Years ago I had a dream dinner party at my then home in Notting Hill Gate with Diana Vreeland, the high priestess of American fashion, and the actor Larry Hagman, just after he’d been shot playing JR in the television series Dallas.

Advice to teenage self?

Work hard and it will get you somewhere, although you don’t necessarily know where.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

A palette to put make-up on, which takes me about four minutes. And I check to see if my hair needs re-dyeing – pink, of course.

Starstruck moment?

I’ve been to Buckingham Palace about five times and I’m always starstruck meeting the Queen.

Big break?

Taking my clothes to America in 1969 and showing them to Diana Vreeland, who was then editor-in-chief of US Vogue. She had them photographed on Natalie Wood and introduced me to top society people who bought them.

Career highlight?

When Freddie Mercury was photographed in a cream satin pleated top that I made. It was early in his career and became a classic image.

Favourite tipple?

I drink far too much coffee.


Good, better, best, never let it rest ’til your good is better and your better best.

Biggest lesson you have learnt about money? 

There’s no point sitting on it, you’ve got to spend it.

Biggest lesson you have learnt about men?

The most successful of my relationships have always been with men who were so interested in their work that they didn’t notice me working.

What would make your life better?

My own plane, which would make travelling so much easier.

First record you bought?

Twist and Shout, an EP by The Beatles that I bought when I was at the Royal College of Art.

Most extravagant purchase?

A pair of iridescent purple Maud Frizon shoes that I bought with the compensation I got when my luggage was lost flying between London and America in the early 70s.

Biggest fear?

Running out of ideas.

Happiness is…

Being with my close friends after a successful collection where everything looks right and everyone wants to wear it.

Zandra will present her new collection at London Fashion Week on Tuesday 18 September