Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes reveals her greatest love in life

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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What will the designer, 77, make of our existential questions?

What is the meaning of life?

I don’t think life has any meaning at all, you just live it.

What is the difference between right and wrong?

Only your conscience will tell you that. Time and contemplation give you the answers.

Where is your happy place?

My studio because I can just lose myself in my work.

Nature or nurture?

I think we have some innate parts of ourselves that we can’t change, but the way you’re brought up has a lot of influence, too. Left alone, you’ll always revert to what it is about you that makes you, you.

Dame Zandra Rhodes has been designing since late 1960s

Is it more important to be liked or respected?

Liked. It’s one’s friends that mean you can exist, they keep you going. Your life would be more difficult if you were only respected.

If you could be remembered for one thing what would it be?

My textile designs. I would like to think I revolutionised how textile design could be used.

Who or what is your greatest love?

My work. Whatever happens in life, my work will carry me through. Everything else might fall by the wayside but my work is still there.

When did you last lie?

I’m sure one lies every day, if you’re thinking about white lies. It can be the face you put forward, but it is not always the truth.

Does the supernatural exist?

It may exist. My aunt was a very famous medium, but I never got involved. Once, she came to my house and said that she could see flames shooting up the walls.

Are you fatalistic?

I suppose so. I believe there are things in life that we have no control over. Fate guided me to come to America, where I had a lot of success.

What is your greatest fear?

That I won’t get any new ideas or know how to develop them.

Animals or babies?

Neither. I didn’t have any children and I certainly would not wish to have an animal. My boyfriend had a dog and I was very happy when it got too old to live.

What talent do you yearn for?

The ability to stretch time, to keep doing what I’m doing forever. 

Do you like to be complimented? 

I think everybody does. It makes your day if someone says you look good or they believe in your work.

Do you have a high pain threshold?

I suppose so, I will always work through pain.

What book do you recommend most to others?

Color: A Natural History Of The Palette by Victoria Finlay. It tells you how colours are made and the mood they cause, which I find so interesting. Colour makes you feel OK.

Zandra Rhodes’ love of colour extends to her bookshelf

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

Patience. Someone got me so cross the other day that I slammed a book I was working with to the ground and broke the binding.

What food sums up happiness?

My bread and butter pudding.

What have you never understood? 

That blood is thicker than water. My friendships mean a lot to me.

What is the one thing you want to know before you die?

That my work will be looked after and appreciated when I’m gone.

Are you scared of dying or what happens when you die?

I don’t think about it because there’s too much to do. I hope it’s quick.

Quinoa or Quavers? 

Quinoa. I’m a sensible eater.

Zandra Rhodes fronts Kurt Geiger’s a/w 2018 Characterful Style campaign.

Images: Rex Features/Getty