Dame Zandra Rhodes RDI became UCA’s Chancellor in 2010. Born in Kent in the 1940s, 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, where she focused on textile design. The traditional British manufacturers considered her early textile fashion designs too outrageous. 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 clothes 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, many academic and professional honours have been bestowed upon Zandra and she 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 has been awarded to Zandra in recognition of her services to the UK's fashion and textiles industries. Zandra is the founder of the Fashion and Textile Museum in London, which opened in May 2003.