Zandra Rhodes: ‘A secret? My hair isn’t naturally pink’

Born in Kent, Zandra Rhodes, 80, graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1964. In 1969, she produced her first solo fashion collection, and went on to dress Diana, Princess of Wales, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan. In 2003, she founded the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. She has designed a tote bag for the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, and lives in London.

What is your greatest fear?
Running out of ideas.

What is your earliest memory?
Drawing chalk butterflies on an air raid shelter in the garden in Chatham, Kent.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m overcritical of myself.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

What would your superpower be?
The ability to do a hundred things at one time.

What makes you unhappy?
No work.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My stomach.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?
The fax machine.

What is your most unappealing habit?
Sleeping with my makeup on.

What do you owe your parents?
My career. My father was a lorry driver, but my mother had been a fitter for the House of Worth in Paris. She was always sewing. She was one of my biggest influences.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My deceased partner, Salah Hassanein.

What does love feel like?

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Diana Vreeland, John Waters and Divine.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

What is the worst job you’ve done?

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Not doing Diana’s wedding dress.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
A plane to San Francisco, 25 years ago. There was a bang and I looked out of the window and saw flames coming out of one of the engines. We zoomed down to the airport below.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A quiet moment.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Founding the Fashion and Textile Museum.

What has been your closest brush with the law?
Being arrested for growing cannabis, 35 years ago.

What keeps you awake at night?

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Till your good is better and your better is best.

Tell us a secret
My hair isn’t naturally pink. 

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