Fashion designer Zandra Rhodes tells Huntington Beach High students of her ‘lifelong love affair’ with textiles

British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes shares her experiences with fashion and costume design during a talk at Huntington Beach High School on Tuesday. Rhodes has designed clothes for celebrities such as Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and Joan Rivers.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, who has designed clothes for celebrities such as Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and Joan Rivers, shared her passion for textiles and costume design with students at Huntington Beach High School during a presentation Tuesday.

The event was in collaboration with the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts and the Chimaera Project, a Burbank-based nonprofit that seeks to empower female filmmakers.

During Rhodes’ hour-long talk, she shared pictures of the whimsical designs in her various collections. She also included photos of famous figures such as Mercury and Diana wearing her clothing.

Rhodes — dressed in pink wedges, a black lipstick jumpsuit and chunky, beaded necklaces — said she tried teaching early on but quickly realized it wasn’t the career for her.

She described her passion for textiles as a “lifelong love affair,” saying she couldn’t picture herself doing anything else.

Rhodes also has worked for the San Diego Opera to create costumes for “The Magic Flute.” In 2004, she was invited to design sets and costumes for Bizet’s “Pearl Fishers” and has since worked with various opera houses.

Her fashion and costume designs are permanently displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Design prints and albums are on display during British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes' appearance Tuesday at Huntington Beach High School.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer )

Rhodes encouraged students to find their true passion and surround themselves with supportive friends.

“Your career will always go up and down,” she said. “You just don’t tell people. Just keep going. … This is not an easy path. It’s very rocky.”

She advised students interested in fashion and costume design to research colleges that are a good fit. She also suggested they take internships, even if it means working for free.

Sophomore Riley Russell, 15, said it was interesting to learn how many celebrities have worn designs by Rhodes.

Junior Ning Tung Tong, 16, said it was inspiring to hear how Rhodes’ passion for textiles opened the door for other opportunities in her career. Ning said she hopes to emulate that in her career.

Twitter: @vegapriscella