Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE RDI
Zandra was installed as Chancellor in May 2010, with the creation of our new university the search for Chancellor began, and it quickly became clear that the ideal candidate could be found among the ranks of our own alumni.
Born in Kent in the forties, Zandra was introduced to the world of fashion by her mother who was a fitter in a Paris fashion house and a teacher at Medway College of Art. Zandra studied at Medway and the Royal College of Art in London. Her major area of study was textile design.
Her early textile fashion designs were considered too outrageous by the traditional British manufacturers. In 1969, she established her own retail outlet in the fashionable Fulham Road in West London. Zandra's lifestyle has proved to be as dramatic, glamorous and extroverted as her designs. With her bright green hair (later changed to a spectacular pink and sometimes a radiant red), theatrical makeup and art jewellery, she has stamped her identity on the international world of fashion.
Zandra designed for the late Diana, Princess of Wales and continues to design for royalty and the rich and famous around the world. She has a loyal cult following in the USA too. Over the years she has had many academic and professional honours bestowed upon her and was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) by the Queen in 1997. In 2014 Zandra received the title of Dame in the Queen's Birthday Honours. The Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) status was awarded to Zandra in recognition of her services to the UK's fashion and textiles industries.
She has made San Diego her home and it was the San Diego Opera that commissioned her to design the costumes for her first opera, The Magic Flute, in 2001. Zandra is the founder of the Fashion and Textile Museum in London which opened in May 2003 and continues to dress celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker and Paris Hilton.
Zandra still works the same long hours she put in when she was starting up and although the Chancellorship of UCA will add to her workload she has embraced the challenge. She said: "I couldn't believe it when I got the letter - I was enormously honoured to be asked to be Chancellor of the University I studied at."