Zandra Rhodes Becomes University Chancellor, Slams Celebrity ‘Designers’

Zandra Rhodes is going back to school. Last week the pink-haired fashion designer was installed as chancellor of Britain’s University for the Creative Arts, formed through the merger of the Surrey Institute of Art & Design, University College, and the Kent Institute of Art & Design. At her London inauguration ceremony (likely the first in history to include a runway show), Rhodes eschewed the typical black cap and gown for a striking ensemble of her own design. “I wanted to create something that had the wow factor but remained in keeping with the sense of the occasion,” she said of her bedazzled fuschia robe and matching hat. “I hope the distinctive color scheme and intricately designed embroidery puts my own mark on what is usually a subdued, black garment.”

Rhodes, who studied at the Medway College of Art (a UCA founder institution) and the Royal College of Art in London, will act as the figurehead for the university, which has five campuses throughout the United Kingdom. She will also preside at UCA graduation ceremonies. But the new responsibilities aren’t likely to slow down Rhodes, who recently launched a new collaboration with British department store Marks & Spencer, attended a reception for fashion industry insiders at Buckingham Palace, and is busy organizing a San Francisco exhibition of the Aida costumes she designed for the English National Opera. She also still makes time to voice her strong opinions about topics ranging from copycat competition to politics. In a recent interview with the Telegraph, she took a swing at celebrity-“designed” fashion collections. “You know that these celebrities haven’t designed any of it,” she said. “They have taken things out of their wardrobes— by Balenciaga or some other brand— and had it knocked up by the chain, which is why [some of these] places lost a lot of their designers.”

Publish date: May 10, 2010 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT