The one lesson I’ve learned from life
Dame Zandra Rhodes
FaShion icon Zandra Rhodes, 77, has been designing since the Sixties for clients including Diana Ross and Princess Diana. She splits her time between London and California, where her partner, former film executive Salah hassanein, 97, lives.
EVERY LIFE CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE
Settling down and having children was never a goal for me — though i sometimes think that doing a fashion collection twice a year is like having a baby every six months. You have to try to drag ideas out of nowhere, which is hard. But i’d never want to do anything else.
My mantra is: don’t give up. every mistake is an original expression that leads to another new idea.
if you believe in what you’re doing, you keep doing it. And you keep doing it at whatever cost. it isn’t necessarily going to make you a fortune but, on the other hand, if you believe in something enough, you have to see it through.
the lesson i’ve learned is everything in life has its own price. When i give lectures to students, i say: ‘You can actually have whatever you want in life. But you have to accept the consequences. You reach up like Alice in Wonderland and swallow the pill, but once you’ve swallowed the pill, you must take what comes with it.’
that might be fame, for example — even when you’re feeling lousy and anti-social and don’t want to talk to people. Or it might be a lifetime of hard work to get where you want to be with your career and leaving no time to start a family.
Sometimes, i wish i could be a bit more relaxed. But my generation likes to work and there are great role models — women who never retired — such as Coco Chanel and Helena Rubinstein. it’s important to keep creating something of value.
When i’m in California, i get up at 5am so that i can talk to my london office. i don’t need much sleep. in fact, i go to bed in my make-up! i don’t like seeing myself without it, so i leave it on, then re-apply in the morning.
People recognise me because of my pink hair. Once, i dyed it brown and no one recognised me. i didn’t mind, but they were so apologetic that it wasn’t worth it. i didn’t feel very interesting, either. i like a bit of colour — it makes me feel good. it means you’re presentable to the world.
Dame Zandra Rhodes has designed flags that will fly from the Southbank Centre in London to celebrate its new festival, (B)old, may 14-20, southbankcentre.co.uk