The Rhodes to Zandra: Part One

Susan Moncur wearing Zandra Rhodes – photo Clive Arrowsmith

I first met Zandra at a shoot at Vogue studios while I was photographing some of her clothes with Vogue stylist Grace Coddington. She later asked me to do a poster for her next seasons collection. She had booked the beautiful model Susan Moncur who was the toast of the Parisian fashion scene at the time. My dear friend Leonard was going to do the hair and the glorious and outrageous Richard Sharah was the make-up artist (who was also amongst my closest friends).

Zandra brought the most incredible high collared pink felt jacket to the shoot which was so vivid and vibrant. Susan Moncur looked incredible in it. When I first met her, Susan didn’t say much. After we had been shooting for a while she said, “You are supposed to tell me I look beautiful,” I laughed and said, “Why should I tell you, you are beautiful, when you already know you are, or you should know by now” For a moment she seemed a little taken aback by my frankness but then her face broadened into a smile and she said in her wonderful french accent, almost in a whisper, “You know Clive I think you might be right.” We both burst out laughing. As you can see from the pictures she was the most poised and elegant model. She had a way of moving that was always sublime and the camera adored. Her poise acted as a foil to Zandra’s clothes which are always very bold and exciting in contrast to Susans understated sensual presence.

Susan Moncur wearing Zandra Rhodes – photo Clive Arrowsmith

In Zandra’s new book ‘Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Fabulous Years of Fashion’ written by the amazing and highly regarded fashion historian Dennis Nothdruft you can see the scope of Zandra’s design genius. Spanning from the classic little black dress to the opulent, exotic patterned operatic style flowing gowns, her gift is undeniable. Zandra is a major talent as well as being a very bright, approachable and affable lady. The Fashion and Textile Museum (London) are currently exhibiting Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous from now until the end of January 2020. I recommend you go along and see the gowns in real life, I say this unreservedly the gowns are works of art.

Zandra Rhodes and Richard Sharah late 80s – photo Clive Arrowsmith

Zandra asked me to do her portrait at a later date (below),it was amazing working with Leonard and Richard on these portraits of her. Richard, bless him could never stay out of the picture or put down his cigarette packet, so I have quite a few images of him touching up the make up while I was shooting. Richard was such an accomplished painter as well as make up artist and it was he that first introduced me to computers and made me purchase my first Apple computer. We were very close, he looked after my son and was the most adorable man and I still miss him.

Zandra Rhodes – photo Clive Arrowsmith

Richard could never resist dressing up himself and he used to drive me to distraction when he would enter the set in part of full drag distracting me from my focus and making everyone collapse with laughter. I used to get really cross with him and say “Richard for F**k’s sake will you stop it.” He was about 6 ft five and could have broken me in half but he was the most gentle giant. He really was able to create make up to enhance any style or garment.

Merisa Bereson – Zandra Rhodes poster (1974) photo Clive Arrowsmith

The above picture of Merisa Berenson was shot while she was filming Kubrick’s seminal film Barry Lyndon for this classic Zandra Rhodes campaign poster. Leonard did the most incredible work on Barry Lyndon creating extraordinary wigs and hair. The film was shot using very wide aperture lenses in the candle light scenes which Kubrick insisted on and he also used special lenses borrowed from NASA, that were used to photograph starlight. Marisa was very demure and reserved and we didn’t talk very much as she had to get back to the film set in Ireland. I think Barbara Daly did the make up (which had the 17th Century feel of the film) and Zandra put her in this incredible creation for the shoot.

Zandra Rhodes and Pat Cleveland (early 70s) – photo Clive Arrowsmith

I got this wonderful image of Pat Cleveland and Zandra together from an earlier shoot at Vogue studios in London. There is something very joyous about this picture, both Pat and Zandra where very effervescent and really bounced off each other.

Anne Schaufuss – wearing Zandra Rhodes – photo Clive Arrowsmith

The picture above of Anne Schaufuss was taken in the early 70s when Grace Coddington styled Anne for Vogue. It’s incredible that my relationship with Zandra has spanned so many decades and we have had so much fun working together. She kindly sent me a copy of the Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Fabulous Years of Fashion’ book with an endearing note, thanking me for preserving her dresses ‘forever’. I think I should be thanking her for her incredible creations, but I will write some more about that in The Rhodes to Zandra: Part Two.

Mexican Collection Zandra Rhodes 1976 – photo Clive Arrowsmith

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