Dame Zandra Rhodes to donate full archive to De Montfort University

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Fashion designer Dame Zandra Rhodes is set to donate her full archive, more than 50 years’ worth of material, to De Montfort University in Leicester.

The 82-year-old fashion and textiles designer, who has become synonymous with her bright fuchsia hair, was awarded an honorary degree by the university on Wednesday, where she also announced the news of her donation.

After being made an honorary doctor of arts, Dame Zandra announced to a crowd of graduates and their families that she would be donating her entire archive for future generations to study and draw inspiration from.

“There’s films of my shows going back to 1971, my first show at the Roundhouse in London. There’s photo record and press books stacked many feet in the air,” she said.

“You see, I’m one of the last physical designers, in the sense that much of my work is by hand, no computers.

“So, it’s quite a rich record of design work, all drawing and Xeroxes.”

After establishing her own design studio in Paddington, west London, in the 1960s, Dame Zandra garnered attention in both Britain and America following the release of her first solo collection.

She went on to design for the likes of Diana, Princess of Wales, Freddie Mercury and Marc Bolan.

She said: “I am towards the end of my career and I suddenly realised I had all these records. I’m something of a hoarder, really.

“I learned about the hard work and education that De Montfort put into preserving the work of working artists and designers for future generations.

“The facilities for students and staff are impressive. I knew I wanted to learn more about the institution and build a future connection where we will work together in helping the minds of tomorrow.”

The designer also praised the emphasis on sustainability within the De Montfort University curriculum, particularly on the fashion and textile courses.

“The whole world has to think about sustainability and it is fabulous that this is happening so well at DMU,” she said.

Alongside Dame Zandra, entrepreneur and campaigner Mark Esho and record studio boss Yasin El Ashrafi also received honorary doctorates in their relevant fields from the university.

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