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Zandra Rhodes reveals lockdown cancer diagnosis

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The British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes has disclosed that she was diagnosed with cancer during lockdown.

“A close friend came to visit and was going to do a restorative yoga class. He asked us to take deep breaths and relax … and I realise that my stomach feels as if it’s full,” the British designer told ITV News London. “I phoned my doctor. He said: ‘Yes it does feel like it’s full.’ He organised X-rays and that was when they discovered that I had a tumour.”

Rhodes, whose cancer is in remission, was given the diagnosis at the beginning of the year. With concerns about missed appointments and delayed diagnosis, owing to Covid 19, she urged others to go to the doctor if they had concerns. “I am hoping my experience will show people that it can happen to anyone,” Rhodes said. “I am healthy, don’t drink or smoke and live a balanced lifestyle – albeit a self-confessed workaholic. Please, if something doesn’t seem right, go to the doctors, even throughout these testing times, with things you think may seem minor. I have taken to treatment very well.

“Things are very much business as usual and I am working on numerous projects for launches in 2021, 22 and beyond. My work is my creative output and has helped me through these testing times.”

The Kent-born designer is one of British fashion’s most-loved characters, immediately recognisable from her fuchsia pink hair, theatrical makeup, colourful dresses and layers of jewellery. Her work, too, is vivid and unrestrained, a kaleidoscope of prints as influenced by Pucci as punk, featuring clashing colours and safety pins.

Her star rose in the 1970s, and over her 50-year career she has dressed celebrities from Diana, Princess of Wales to Freddie Mercury.

In 2003 Rhodes founded the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, south-east London which, she said, “I started because I feel British fashion gets forgotten – my work influenced the world so I decided to preserve it.”

She was made a dame in the 2014 birthday honours. Projects coming up include a collaboration with Ikea, due to launch in September 2021, in which the shop’s omnipresent blue Frakta bag will be given the Rhodes treatment and remade in searing pink with a frill, and renamed Karismatisk.


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