The sculpted coat

8. The sculpted coat

In this video, Zandra Rhodes describes how this coat is influenced by the shape of a shell:

"so that it is almost like the shell goes around the whole of the body".

Known as the 'Mermaid coat', this design from 1973 has a fishtail hem and the collar is held up by boning.

In the book The Art of Zandra Rhodes, Zandra Rhodes recalls that she was inspired by discussions with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld about couture construction techniques and that this led to her use of boning to ensure that the collar was both supported on its own and that it also had the desired curvaceous shape.

Zandra Rhodes had been to Japan to do a show and had got to know the model, muse, and jewellery designer Tina Chow. The 'Mermaid coat' was worn with a small pillbox hat, which was beaded by Tina Chow with shell motifs to link with the appliqué shell motifs on the coat.

In her book, Zandra Rhodes also describes how she was inspired and "reawakened to shells" by the chance discovery of a shell-covered wicker basket in a garage sale near Woodstock. She also remembered seeing shell gardens near Clacton.