I am wearing a look from my Elizabethan collection from 1981. I love it because I wore it to a very memorable event during a very memorable period of my life. I was experimenting more. There’s a boned bodice top and a crinoline underneath the gold pleated skirt. Over the crinoline are two swirled panniers, attached to a sash.
This picture was taken at the grand opening of the Barbican Centre in 1982 – a new, alternative arts space with cinemas in a part of London that needed revitalising. It was opened by the Queen. I remember that she didn’t wear a crown, although I think she should have done because it was an important occasion. If I were the Queen, I’d have a permanent mark on my head from always wearing my crown!
The designer David Sassoon (left) saved this picture for many years, which is wonderful. We went together and I think we were the most dressed-up couple. I always like to dress up, because you give things a sense of occasion and make it memorable. You don’t just say: “Here’s the event, take it or leave it.”
I lent this outfit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for a new exhibition – but I would definitely still wear it. There’s nothing better than wearing clothes from your own collection because then you can find out if you’ve done anything wrong. If you put something on and it keeps riding up or doesn’t sit in the right place, then it’s not the dress’s fault, it’s the designer’s.
I only ever wear clothes I have designed. If I wear something that is practical but not one of my designs, then I adapt it. So at the moment, I’m wearing pink dungarees to work in, but I’ve printed all over them. If you’re a designer and you’re not wearing your own product, then what do you believe in? What are you selling?
Dame Zandra Rhodes is the newest lifetime patron of Graduate fashion week.