Joanna Lumley helped the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) launch a Jisc-funded digital archive of work by world-renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.
Famous designs worn by global icons, such as Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor, during Zandra’s half a century in fashion are just some of the 500 dresses and garments that have been painstakingly prepared, catalogued and photographed over the past 18 months.
The Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection has been created for the education community through a collaborative project between UCA and the Zandra Rhodes Studio with funding from Jisc.
"I am tremendously proud to announce that the Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection is now available to the world.
I am absolutely thrilled to unveil this high quality digital archive of 500 of my most famous designs, as well as drawings and behind-the-scenes footage in my studio, for access by today's fashion and textile students, designers and researchers and I hope that it will be an inspiration worldwide.
I would like to thank the University for the Creative Arts, Jisc, the team at my studio and VADS for believing in the project and making this happen – it’s not easy to locate, prep, photograph, research and catalogue 50 years of fashion collections but they have done a fantastic job."
Famous for her bright pink hair and cutting-edge designs Zandra Rhodes has remained one of the most recognisable names in fashion over the last five decades and remains relevant with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker and Paris Hilton wearing her dresses today.
She was appointed UCA’s first Chancellor in 2010 and studied at Medway College of Art - one of the Kent and Surrey colleges that formed UCA.
Researchers and students at UCA have worked with Zandra Rhodes and her studio to not only catalogue her designs for future generations but also create contextual learning materials which explore her creative processes and production techniques through video interviews, tutorials and exquisite original drawings.
Professor Kerstin Mey Director of Research and Enterprise at UCA said:
"We are proud and excited to launch the Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection.
Zandra gave our researchers and students unprecedented access to her studio which has enabled them to catalogue 500 famous items from her personal archive that we will make available to a global audience.
I am certain that this accessible, open education resource featuring one of the most influential British fashion designers over the past 50 years will stimulate and inform future generations.”
The project has been funded by a £110,000 grant from the charity Jisc. Their aim is to make the UK the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world.
Paola Marchionni Jisc’s programme manager for digitisation explained:
This project represents another excellent partnership that Jisc is proud to have supported.
Zandra Rhodes’ generosity in opening up her studio and archives to the UCA team has made possible the creation of a beautiful and high quality digital resource to support students and teachers and which is also available to the public at large.
“This project however has not just been about digitisation: students have played an active role gaining ‘real world’ work experience and skills which will be an invaluable asset to them in the future.”