Way back in 2003, the Grand Opening Exhibition of Zandra Rhodes' Fashion and Textile Museum was a fabulous and fascinating show in which over 70 designers from around the world chose their favourite dress, and then explained why, providing a rare look into the creative processes of some of the greatest names in international fashion.
This week, a beautiful book of the exhibition is finally published in aid of Save the Children (for every copy sold, Antique Collectors Club will donate 10% to Save the Children). You can see some of our favourite entries below.
Designers and celebrities featured include Manolo Blahnik, Jasper Conran, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Betty Jackson, Calvin Klein, Christian Lacroix, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, Mary Quant, Oscar de la Renta, Zandra Rhodes, Clements Ribeiro, Paul Smith, Anna Sui, Valentino, Vivienne Westwood, and many, many more.
Any fashion lover would kill to get their hands on a copy. Favourite dress? This is our new favourite book...
'A dress is not designed for a star, for the moon or for the clouds. I design for women and whether they are rich and famous, blonde or brunette, it should not be my observation when the piece has been taken out of the kitchen of fashion. I love dresses because they are effortless. You zip it in and you zip it out. You do not have to stylise it; you do not have to think period! You have to feel and look like a woman. In this particular dress, I exercised a story of contradiction. A ballerina dress in grey and not in pink! A mix of fragile tulle with a masculine jersey. Contradiction is what modern life is all about.' - Alber Elbaz, Silk tulle with wool jersey: Lanvin, Autumn/Winter 2002
'With this favourite dress, there is a sexiness in the structure of the corseting mixed with the softness of the dragonfly lace and ruched chiffon.' - Alexander McQueen, Lace chiffon and satin corset: Autumn/Winter 2002/03
'The dress was the first outfit from my Fluoro Collection. I actually hated this dress for a really long time after the show – pure overkill. But then a few months ago I saw it again for the first time in ages and loved it. It represents for me a period when designing the collection meant a continuous state of overexcitement, not only did we graffiti the dress, but my whole studio and every telephone, notebook, table we could find. Consequently, we all had to live very closely with that collection for a long time afterwards and fluoro pink car spray ‘aint the easiest thing to live with after the first month of novelty. It was only the third collection I had done, but the buzz was wild. Kate Moss decided to do the show at the last minute and suddenly we had all the makings of our first cult item, mad colour, the print done on a friend’s computer in about half an hour, the design inspired by a pillowcase, with a pleat that sent the whole thing squiffy, and lop-sided, put it on Kate who can make a pillow case look like the sexiest, coolest thing on Earth, and we had managed the silliest hype. What fun.' - Luella Bartley, Cotton with car paint: Luella, Spring/Summer 2001
'It was really difficult to choose my ultimate favourite dress, because I always have a favourite from each collection. In order to make the decision I had to really think about the reasons why I like a particular piece. One of my favourite dresses is the first dress I ever made. It was a fuchsia pink and turquoise bias cut dress which Kate Moss modelled for me at my first ever show. I have fond memories of this dress as it symbolised the beginning of my career. But I wanted to pick a piece, which really embodies the work that I do. I chose this nude silk georgette dress from my Spring/Summer Collection as it really seems to capture my signature style.
'I am passionate about details, and with this dress I wanted to create something which was intricately detailed and feminine, something which the wearer would want to treasure, I love the fact that this dress is totally glamorous, sparkly and eye-catching, yet it’s easy shape somehow makes it more wearable and laid back. Once I had the shape right, I drew every single bead and embroidery thread myself onto the paper pattern. I sat with the beaders in India for two days and helped them create the design until it was perfect. I wanted the embroidery threads to jump out from the fleshy colour of the georgette. Everyone wondered why I chose to embroider butterflies and in truth there is no real reason other than they looked pretty. This dress has been one of my most popular pieces to date so it is nice to know those butterflies have found happy owners'. - Matthew Williamson, Silk georgette: Spring/Summer 2002
'My favourite dress is the Pigalle. It uses my signature folding technique - perfect for a woman with curves. It is a dress that women fall in love with, which of course makes me very happy but I don’t control that, it happens by itself'. - Roland Mouret, The Pigalle Dress, Wool: RM by Roland Mouret, Autumn/Winter 2008
'This is my favourite dress.' - Stella McCartney, Silk dress: Autumn/ Winter 2003
'I loved the youth of Michelle [Williams]. I loved the colour of the dress. I loved the lipstick. Just off enough to look charming, yet sophisticated'. - Vera Wang, Bobbinet tulle: 200
My Favourite Dress, by Gity Monsef, Samantha Erin Safer & Robert de Niet, £29.95 click to buy here.