Our design on Zandra

10th November 2006 at 00:00
Zandra Rhodes has secured the survival of her beloved fashion museum by placing its future in the hands of a college.

The pound;2million deal means the Fashion and Textile Museum in South London becomes part of Newham College - already recognised as a leading training centre for the industry.

Ms Rhodes, the celebrated fashion guru and designer, will continue to operate her design business from the building.

She said: "I am absolutely delighted that our collaboration with Newham College has led to the college purchasing the museum. The innovative educational work that we have developed together now has a secure future here at the Fashion and Textile Museum. I look forward to championing the many exciting initiatives that will form part of this work in the coming years."

The museum will be expanded into an academy of fashion, textiles and jewellery, helping to develop the college's centre of excellence in the subject. It will continue to open to the public.

Martin Tolhurst, the college's principal, said: "We had been working with the museum for a long time. It is a landmark building. The future of the museum was called into doubt by financial reasons. It is difficult to run a museum with private funding."

The deal, which was approved by the Learning and Skills Council, means the college now owns the museum buildings, although not the collection, which is currently owned by a charity.

Mr Tolhurst said the college was also in talks to take over the collection, which concentrates on women's fashion from the 1940s onwards. Ms Rhodes has already donated her archive of patterns.

Students will benefit from the resources of the museum and the influence of Ms Rhodes.

"They will be working in a skills sector with a world class expert who happens to be located in the same place and is prepared to act as a champion and advisor," said Mr Tolhurst. Ms Rhodes' mother was a Paris fashion house fitter and a lecturer at Medway College of Art, where Ms Rhodes also studied.

She established her own label in 1969 and was designer of the year in 1972 and 1974, before setting up the Fashion and Textile Museum. Under the college's plans, the new academy would be at the centre of Southwark's regeneration plans for Bermondsey, which are intended to restore the area as a centre of fashion design.

Mr Tolhurst said: "It is a fully-functioning museum and event space. We are not going to start chopping it up into classrooms. We are going to use what's there."

Read how college architecture looks to the future. Page 5

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