Zandra Rhodes – Unseen (and seen in Vogue and Harpers and Queen)

Inspired by visiting various fashion exhibitions recently – Debby Wale, one of our Triborough Reference Librarians has once again been delving into our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library.

Zandra Rhodes - Unseen programme from the Fashion and Textile Museum
Zandra Rhodes – Unseen programme from the Fashion and Textile Museum

Working at Chelsea Library, with unlimited access to the Costume Collection, my interest in fashion has been revitalised. With the final days of my National Art Pass discount to be used, I went along to the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey Street, SE1. If you’ve not been – here’s a great description of the museum taken from their website:

The Fashion and Textile Museum is a cutting edge centre for contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery in London. Founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, the centre showcases a programme of changing exhibitions exploring elements of fashion, textile and jewellery as well as the Academy which runs courses for creative students and businesses.

Their current exhibition is ‘Zandra Rhodes: Unseen’ and it runs until 31 August 2013. I had already been to the ‘Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s’ at the V&A. Zandra Rhodes’ career has spanned the decades from the 70’s and 80’s including designing a dress for Princess Diana – which can be seen at the current ‘Fashion Rules’ exhibition at Kensington Palace which I’ve also been to.

Princess Diana and Zandra Rhodes (taken from 'Dressing Diana by Tim Graham and Tamsin Blanchard)
Princess Diana and Zandra Rhodes (taken from ‘Dressing Diana by Tim Graham and Tamsin Blanchard)

Princess Diana wearing the dress designed by Zandra Rhodes
Princess Diana wearing the dress designed by Zandra Rhodes

This pink chiffon and pearl dress with a zig zag hem was worn in Japan and was sold at a sale of Princess Diana’s garments at Chrisities.

Years earlier I attended a talk at the Commonwealth Institute given by Zandra Rhodes and I was interested to find out more. Back at Chelsea Reference Library I trawled through the back issues of Vogue and Harpers. I even put together a display in Chelsea Gallery (part of Chelsea Reference Library) of the materials I found to write this post.

There’s some great information about Zandra Rhodes on Voguepedia:

When she realized her prints were too bold and boisterous for other designers, Rhodes began crafting clothing, as well. Still, she never lost sight of the methodical approach that she learned in textiles. For early collections, she visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and studied ethnic costume in the field. With a scholarly eye, she filled her sketchbook with drawings of Maasai warriors in Kenya, cacti from the Mojave Desert, Australian rock formations, and even celestial bodies that she discovered at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. For her book The Art of Zandra Rhodes, she wanted her garments displayed flat, like mounted butterflies, rather than worn by models. That way, their extraordinary patterns were revealed.

Zandra, Queen of the Desert

Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Be inspired by the art of seventies icon Zandra Rhodes. The pink lady’s fantasy fashion delivered a fix of culture clash glamour that lives on and on: graphic textiles, bold prints and swathes of diaphanous chiffon.
Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002

This silk devore dress was from the same shoot – worn with a Philip Treacy Couture hat and leather, feather, sand shells and beaded necklaces by Erickson Bearmon.

How to do….Zandra Rhodes

Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002

The same issue of Harpers and Queen has a very handy guide on how to dress in the Zandra Rhodes style or as Harpers and Queen describe it:

The original – and still the best for jet-set chiffon and inspirational prints.
Harpers and Queen, March 2002
Harpers and Queen, March 2002

This silk chiffon dress is by Salvatore Ferragamo and it’s worn with lace leggings by Zandra Rhodes – you don’t have to dress head to toe to get the Zandra Rhodes look.

Attention! Diversion! Zigzag Rhodes! 

Over to Vogue now…..

Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)
Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)

These pictures were taken from the article about Zandra Rhodes’ home:

Powerful patterns and coloured cover Zandra Rhodes house and her person, all is idiosyncratic, instantly recognisable decoration…The house, salmon pink outside, has mottled marbled sea-pinks and blues inside, a Martin Sharp mural up the stairwell meeting painted columns, urns, banked plastic flowers on the landing, with scarlet pleated bath alcove and Zandra in the tub.
Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)
Vogue, September 1976 (photo by Norman Parkinson)

Vogue’s own motor show

Here’s Jerry Hall in a Zandra Rhodes satin sarong – with a Rover to match!

Vogue, October 1976
Vogue, October 1976
Frilled sarong of pleated satin in whipped cream print, tendrils of rouleaux and gilded cords keeping body and soul together.

West Coast style

Vogue, March 1976
Vogue, March 1976

With more time, I’m sure I would find a lot more – I feel as if I am just scratching the surface. I really enjoyed researching this subject – so if you feel inspired come and take a look at our Costume Collection at Chelsea Reference Library.

Debby Wale
Debby Wale

Debby Wale, Triborough Reference Librarian

Chelsea Reference Library

Further information

  • ‘The Art of Zandra Rhodes’ by Anne Knight is available to view in the Costume Collection – it documents her designs inspired by Africa, China and India
  • Vogue and Harpers and Queens – back copies of these magazines can be viewed in the Costume Collection too
  • Berg Fashion Library has more information about Zandra Rhodes – you’ll need a Kensington and Chelsea library card to access this amazing online fashion resource
  • Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection Project – a blog I can certainly recommend
  • More information about the National Art pass is available on the ArtFund website

Summer in London for Kids

So many of you enjoyed the blog post last December from Kensington Mums, Christmas in London for Kids that when they offered to write something similar for the summer  we said yes please! And if you’re looking to see what’s happening in our libraries this summer – check out our Summer Reading Challenge events page.

Now over to Kensington Mums….

Kensington Mums logo
Kensington Mums logo

It’s the Summer Holidays, that means six weeks of entertaining your little ones while ‘trying’ to keep sane. Apparently, it only takes 66 days to form a new habit, so summer is the perfect time to be forming good learning routines.  Just saying :)

It is also a beautiful endless summer waiting to be filled with memories. Here are our local picks of more than a dozen things to do with kids this summer in London. If you are staying in the capital then read on as no stone was left unturned in my quest to find the best local activities and places to visit to keep your little ones entertained this Summer. There are loads of fun things to do with your little ones this summer, most of which are FREE!

Kensington Mums summer drinks invitation
Kensington Mums summer drinks invitation

Kensington Mums is having a social networking event on the 16 August with the lovely members of the group. Dads are welcome too. Get in touch to register. This event is by invitation only. Enjoy your holidays and let us know what you are planning to get up to and have enjoyed the most by joining the conversation on our Facebook Page, any recommendations or suggestions are also welcome. To be kept in the loop you can follow us on Twitter @KensingtonMums

What’s on this summer for you and your little ones

Ecology Centre in Holland Park
Ecology Centre in Holland Park

London’s parks

The sun is shining, enjoy some outdoor fun in our local parks and paddling pools.

Ecology Holiday Activity Programme 2013 at Holland Park. Great sessions morning and afternoon for your little ones to explore nature’s beauty and learn with hands on activities.

Diana Memorial Playground. Little ones can play in ‘Peter Pan’ themed playground with a huge wooden pirate ship and teepees to explore and for the kids to run around and let some steam off. Expect long queues during peak times.

Diana Memorial Fountain is great for little ones to splash around and just around the corner you will find the Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool which are great for both adults and children. Expect long queues during peak times.

Kensington Memorial Park not far from the buzzing streets of Portobello Market is heaven for little ones especially in these hot summer days. The modern, interactive water play area which consists of 22 different water-play items. There is also a sand pit, slides and a rocket frame for kids to climb onto. Highly recommend it! Just don’t forget your swim suit and towel!

Kyoto Garden in Holland Park
Kyoto Garden in Holland Park

Holland Park also has a lovely sandy play area for little ones and don’t forget to have a nice walk in the beautiful Kyoto Garden.

Shape Up in Holland Park, every Wednesday until 4 September as part of the Council’s summer programme of health activities for adults. There is something on every weekday.  Whether you fancy toning your body with Tai Chi or using the new outdoor gym, or enjoying a healthy walk in the leafy environs of Holland Park there’s something for everybody. Prices vary from free to £5 and the events take place late mornings and lunchtimes. For more information and a full schedule please contact : 020 7938 8182 or email:

One of our Royal Parks
One of our Royal Parks

Experience the magic of the Royal Parks! They are organising summer holiday activities, from guided walks to nature talks to family learning and discovery days. Click here for family experiences and here for children experiences.

Hanging basket at Opera Holland Park
Hanging basket at Opera Holland Park

The Opera Holland Park 2013 Season is here including Madame Butterfly and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  as well as Luna Cinema which presents Summer Cinema at Opera Holland Park – classic films on the big screen at London’s most beautiful theatre.

Museums and galleries

Victoria and Albert Museum are hosting many summer activities, including the Imagination Station, Pop-Up Performances and Drop in Design. While you are there, young and old alike will enjoy paddling pool in the courtyard.

Family workshops at Saatchi Gallery are running on 17 and 24 August. Little ones will exploring the current exhibitions Paper and New Order and go on an interactive tour of the exhibition followed by a fun, creative workshop in response to the artist of the week. Booking required. Please note these workshops are suitable for families with children aged 3 to 12 years old.

The Museum of London are organising lots of family fun sessions including a musical playground, interactive performances and storytelling sessions.

Free Theatre – More London Free Festival 2013. It’s free, it’s family friendly and it celebrates the local community. There are no tickets – just take your seat, first come first served! Every Wednesday to Sunday in August experience award-winning Theatre from London’s Free Open Air Theatre Season.

The Museum of Childhood has Summer holiday activities, Thursday  25 July – Monday 2 September and a Family Chess Club, Saturdays 22 June, 6 and 20 July 3, 17 and 31 August.

Sensational butterflies!
Sensational butterflies!

Sensational Butterflies at the Natural History Museum. Read our full review here.

Free Drop-in Workshops: The Drawing Station at Somerset House, every Saturday in August.

Science Museum Live: The Energy Show. 22 July – 31 August 2013: throughout the summer holidays. While you are there, don’t miss the 3D Summer at the Science Museum from Thursday 25 July to Sunday 1 September 2013.

Fashion Rules! – Fun Fridays at Kensington Palace this summer. 26 July and 2,9,16,23 August 11.00 – 16.00.

Head to Covent Gardens and visit the London Transport Museum,over the holidays they have organised some family station activities from 6 July as well as demonstrations, story time and make and take workshops.

Gallery Pavilion 2013
Gallery Pavilion 2013

Visit the Serpentine Gallery to visit the Gallery Pavilion 2013 which is designed by multi award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.

Open Studio at the Tate Modern every weekend and Thursdays and Fridays in the school holidays.

And the rest

Despicable Me 2
Despicable Me 2

Escape the heat and head into your local cinema to watch Despicable Me 2. Its great family movie the whole family will enjoy.

Little Creatures family festival at London Zoo. From Friday 30 August – Sunday 1 September, ZSL London Zoo will open its doors for a weekend of big fun for your little ones.

Westfield White City are hosting ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ sessions and ‘Kids in the Garden’ every Monday and Wednesday from 12 noon to 5pm and Storytelling at the Tipi every Tuesday 11am  to 4pm.

Enjoy your holidays and remember: every-summer-has-a-story-257x300

Leighton House Museum Schools Art Competition

Leighton House Museum Schools Art Competition and Exhibition 2013 comes to Kensington Central Library

This week is Leighton House Museum’s 14th annual Schools Art Competition and Exhibition.  It celebrates work produced within schools in the Royal Borough and aims to encourage children and young people to pursue their interests and talents in art.
Leighton House was the former home and work studio of the leading Victorian, Frederic Leighton.  Frederic Leighton was visited by many great artists in his day, and as President of the Royal Academy Leighton gained a reputation for encouraging the work of young and emerging artists.
This year 33 schools took part in the competition and over 11 pieces of art work were selected for the exhibition at Leighton House Museum which took place earlier this month.  The exhibition has now come to Kensington Central Library for one week and displays the prize winners.
The exhibition and competition is sponsored by the Park Gallery, Flow Gallery and the Friends of Leighton House Museum.
Jennifer Kirk
Culture Service Development Officer

Further information

More information about Frederic Leighton and Leighton House Museum can be found on the Leighton House Museum webpage.

Brian Sewell at Kensington Central Library

Brian Sewell
Brian Sewell

Brian Sewell – one of Britain’s greatest living critics and possibly one of the most controversial – came to Kensington Central Library on Thursday 21 February 2013. He was interviewed by Michael Volpe, Opera Holland Park’s General Manager. It was a fantastic evening and in case you missed it don’t worry as the interview was filmed. Over to Michael Volpe to tell us more….

Brian Sewell in conversation with Michael Volpe

In these short films, we present highlights of an evening in conversation between Brian Sewell, art critic and author and myself. I have known Brian for over twenty years, dealing with him both as art critic and as an author for our in-house publications at Opera Holland Park. I never doubted Brian’s ability to engage an audience – he has made a career of that – but the evening revealed a deeper and more nuanced personality that the public rarely see. 

The films present a clear-eyed Sewellian view of the arts world at large, the Arts Council, museums, the education system and a plethora of other subjects. He is never shy of giving his views and as one might expect, expresses them beautifully (and with an acute comic timing too!). Sewell is revealed as a passionate advocate for art and art history,  possessing a fierce commitment to connoisseurship and a deep reluctance to have any truck whatsoever with cultural vacuity.

 The discussion lasted nearly two hours with questions; we present a selection of threads from the evening and in total the films last approximately 45 minutes.

Michael Volpe
Michael Volpe

Michael Volpe





Christmas in London For Kids

This is a guest blog post from Kensington Mums – they’ve put together a list of some fantastic things you can do with your kids in London this festive season. Many thanks to them! They’ll be blogging for us again in the New Year – all about themselves and how they use our libraries.

A quick reminder about the free Christmas children’s activities we have in our libraries:

  • Making Christmas Cards and Tree Decorations, Thursday 13 December, 3 to 5pm at Chelsea Children’s Library.
  • Christmas Crafts, Thursday 20th December, 3.45 to 5pm at Brompton Library.
  • Winter Story Telling, Tuesday 2 January, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Children’s Library.

What’s on this Christmas for you and your little ones

 If you are staying in the capital this Christmas, you will find loads of things to keep little and older ones entertained and happy this festive season. Just wrap up warm and enjoy the fun! Here is a run down on what’s on. Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Keep Calm logo

Christmas with the animals!

Meet Santa and London’s reindeer herd at London Zoo.
Running until 24 Dec 2012. Come and visit Santa at his winter lodge, a custom-designed grotto built in the fairytale setting of London Zoo’s memorial gardens –and also visit London’s very own reindeer herd! Suitable for children 10 years and under.
Visit the London Zoo website for more information.

Christmas festive fun at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo.
More information click to download a PDF of the event.

Meet Father Christmas!

Santa’s Grotto at the Duke of York Square, SW3. 23 December 2012. FREE

Meet Santa at Whole Foods Kensington
The grotto is open Saturdays 11am to 7pm and Sundays 10am to 6pm. There are only six family slots per hour so book early!
Email for more information.

Ice Skating!

Ice Skating
Ice Skating

If you and your kids fancy ice skating- there are lots of rinks in the capital for Christmas:

  • Westfield London (Shepherds Bush) and  Westfield Stratford City both have ice rinks and Santa’s Grotto.
  • Hampton Court Palace ice rink opens Saturday 1 December 2012 – until Sunday 13 January 2013. Great for a festive family gathering.
  • Skate at Somerset House. Celebrate the festive season in style at London’s most glamorous ice rink.
  • Natural History Museum’s Ice Rink is now open. Embrace winter in their 950-square-metre ice rink.
  • The Tower of London Ice Rink. London’s most dramatic open-air ice rink returns to this spectacular setting. Located in the moat, the ice rink is set against the magnificent fortress battlements!
  • Head to Canary Wharf  for their ice rink and during the festive season. They also have free festive activities for kids all weekends in December and Christmas Eve throughout Canary Wharf’s malls including art and craft workshops, festive face painting and a magical treasure hunt.  There’s also Santa’s Grotto.

Christmas in the Museums!

Winter Wonderland workshops at the National Gallery,
Friday 14 December. For more information visit the National Gallery website.

Horrible Histories Christmas Special at the National Portrait Gallery,
Saturday  15 December. Come and celebrate the festive season in Tudor style. Pop into the theatre to meet cast members from Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain and find out all about Tudor life.  For more information visit the Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain website.

Christmas workshops at Lauderdale House,
Saturdays 15, 18 20 and 21 December. Booking essential.
Visit the Lauderdale House website for more information.

Mirror Mirror’s Christmas Magic Lantern Show at the Museum of Childhood,
Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 December 2012. Join Victorian sisters Anna and Bea for their annual family magic lantern show – an atmospheric tale of mystery and adventure!
More information visit the Museum of Childhood website.

Jigsaw Japes at Bank of England Museum,
17  to 21, 24, 27, 28 and 31 December and 2 to 4 January.
Children of all ages can draw their favourite Museum object on a pre-cut jigsaw to take home. More information visit the Jigsaw Jape and the Bank of England website.

Santa vs. the Snowman 3D (U) at the IMAX, Science Museum.
Showing every weekend in December. For only £5 your little one will enjoy watching duck snowballs, elves and jet-propelled reindeers as Santa takes on a lonely snowman who wants nothing more than to take over Christmas and become the world’s most beloved festive character. For more information visit the Science Museum website.

Kids’ Zone at the National Army Museum.
Kids Zone is great for children aged 0-8 with forest and arctic themed climbing frames for kids to scale, slide and run through. There is also a soft play area for babies, toys, and arts and crafts. For only £2.50 per child this is a great way for little ones to let off some steam. Please note the Museum is not open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Adults are FREE. For more information visit the National Army Museum website.

Christmas Crafts and Seasonal Stories at Museum of Childhood,
Saturdays 15, 22 December, Sundays 16, 23 December. Thursday 27 December to Sunday 6 January Excluding New Years Day 10.30am to 4pm. FREE Find out how families celebrated Christmas 100 years ago! Enjoy a creative re-telling of The Nutcracker and create seasonal crackers, baubles, retro decorations and cards with help from the Retired and Senior Service Volunteers. For more information visit the Museum of Childhood website.

Festive Performance at Victoria and Albert Museum,
Saturday 29 December 2012 to Sunday 6 January 2013. Watch the dance of ‘The Nutcracker’ on weekends or see a fun gallery play during the week.  Create imaginative Victorian Christmas decorations. Suitable for ages 4+. For more information visit the Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Christmas Storytime at the Museum of London Docklands,
Thursday 27 December, 10.30 to 11am, 11.30am to 12 noon and 2 to 2.30pm. FREE.  Enjoy a festive story together, told using puppets, museum objects and music – then come and play in the Mudlarks children’s gallery if you have energy to spare! For more information visit the Museum of London Docklands website.

And the rest….!

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
This is probably one of my favourite winter events. It is absolutely wonderful, its got everything from roller coaster rides, circus, Santa’s land, Magical Ice Kingdom to name just a few and one of the best Christmas markets I have been to. This year’s ice ring is Ice Age 4. Just make sure you wrap up warm! Winter Wonderland is free to enter. However you will need to buy tickets for the attractions & rides. For more information visit the Winter Wonderland website.

Christmas at Kensington Palace,
1 to 23 December 2012. Prepare to be spellbound as Kensington Palace is transformed into a unique palace-sized Advent Calendar this December. For more information visit the Kensington Palace website.

LEGO’s countdown to Christmas with the LEGO advent calendar.
This is really impressive work. Head to South Hall of Covent Garden at 4 pm every day until Christmas to witness a special guest opening a door of the giant LEGO advent calendar.  While you are there, don’t forget to Meet a real life Rudolph every Saturday at Covent Garden Piazza from 12pm to 4pm. Kids will love to hand-feed and pet them.

London New Year’s Day Parade
This will be taking place on the 1st January 2013. The Parade starts at 11.45am on Piccadilly at the junction with Berkeley Street outside the Ritz Hotel and finishes around 3pm at Parliament Street. For more information visit the New Year’s Day Parade website.

Kensington Mums Christmas

To be kept in the loop with the local scoop with the latest in children activities, playgroup and family outings, join Kensington Mums where you get free updates with what’s on for you and your little one(s). You are welcome to connect with other Mums to share your tips and recommendation and capture all those invaluable word of mouth recommendations.  It’s a fantastic support network! Kensington Mums also organises Mummy and baby outings as well as Mums Night out and pamper events! Visit The Kensington Mums website for more information.