Fashion

Dame Zandra Rhodes’ garments are more than fashion. They’re works of art.

Dame Zandra Rhodes, center, with models Feb. 3, at CAM Raleigh for the opening of “Zandra Rhodes: Textile, Print, and Form: A Lifetime of Magical Experimentations.” Rhodes will be back at CAM Raleigh in March.
Dame Zandra Rhodes, center, with models Feb. 3, at CAM Raleigh for the opening of “Zandra Rhodes: Textile, Print, and Form: A Lifetime of Magical Experimentations.” Rhodes will be back at CAM Raleigh in March. Hannah Brady courtesy of CAM Raleigh

With a shock of hot pink hair and a radiant smile, Dame Zandra Rhodes exudes a youthful energy at the age of 78.

That liveliness permeates her clothing designs, which are featured in an exhibition at CAM Raleigh, “Textile, Print and Form: A Lifetime of Magical Experimentation,” on display through June 10. Rhodes will be at CAM for First Friday on March 2.

CAM exhibitions director Eric Gaard says Rhodes was a natural choice for the gallery’s fashion exhibition series.

“She’s always approached her work as an artist and not a fashion designer,” he says. “Her thinking transcends fashion. Her approach to process is really critical – she’s still sketching every single day. She approaches all of her work as an artist would.”

Zandra Rhodes 2
Dame Zandra Rhodes has an exhibit at CAM Raleigh through June: “Zandra Rhodes: Textile, Print, and Form: A Lifetime of Magical Experimentations.” Photo by Gene Nocon

Rhodes began working as a textile designer nearly 50 years ago, eventually setting out on her own to design clothing.

“Her approach to printing textiles started in the ’60s with original screen printing, and everything is still done in silkscreen format,” Gaard says. “She loves the way the ink penetrates the textiles. Digital printing doesn’t do that.”

But while Rhodes’ clothing can be worn – she usually wears her own designs – these are no mere dresses and skirts. Each piece is an intricately assembled work of art.

For this exhibition, CAM highlights three techniques, in addition to screen printing used by Rhodes to create her work.

“Cutting and Slashing” involves cutting holes in garments and hemlines with knives. The technique dates to Elizabethan times, when it was used to layer different fabrics and allow the colors of each layer to show through.

Inspired by punk kids in London, “Holes and Chains” also features holes cut with knives, but then beautifully hemmed or pinned together with beaded safety pins and chains. With “Beading and Embroidery,” Rhodes creates what she calls “dimensional printing,” or creating a textural pattern with embellishments.

Though most people her age are content to enjoy the leisurely life of retirement, Rhodes continues tirelessly with her work, something Gaard hopes to celebrate with this exhibition.

“The fact that she has kept this process of art making going for 50 years and stayed relevant is really inspiring,” Gaard said.

Marta’s kicks off charity initiative

Marta’s boutique in North Hills is celebrating its first year in business, and it plans to give rather than receive. The shop will mark its anniversary with festivities on March 2, punctuated by the kickoff of the Marta’s Matters initiative to support local charities.

In its first year, the store hosted several events to raise funds for a number of local charities, such as WakeMed Children’s Hospital and SPCA of Wake County. Store owner Brenda Gibson says she was raised to help others by a mother who worked to make life better for people in her community.

“I believe that if you do well in life you should give back,” she says. “I get more out of doing for others than anything else I’ve ever done.”

Gibson says she chooses local organizations that appeal to causes dear to her heart, including health care, saving animals and caring for children. She plans to host a number of events this year to raise funds for organizations that help meet these goals, such as Transitions LifeCare Pediatric Program and Alliance Medical Ministries.

The boutique is at 4120-100 Main at North Hills St., Raleigh.

Trunk Show

Dovecote Style in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village kicks off its spring trunk show season with new pieces from IT Felt Scarves, Feb. 25. Designer Nadia Bevegni creates her accessories using silk remnants from Italian couture houses. For more info, call 919-542-1145.

Email tips to jenniferbringle@gmail.com.

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