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How to make cock-a-leekie – recipe | Food

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One in a long and noble list of wonderfully named British soups, cockie leekie, as it’s sometimes known, is an old Scottish favourite that dates back to at least the 16th century, but that has its roots in the medieval culinary tradition of meat and fruit pottages. It’s also, in my opinion, one of the most wholesome lunches or suppers imaginable; a true feast in a bowl.

Prep 10 min
Cook 2 hr 45 min
Serves 4

2 chicken legs
2 large leeks
1 large carrot
1 bay leaf

100g barley (optional)
25g soft dried prunes

1 Choose your chicken

Felicity Cloake’s cock-a-leekie 01

Traditionally, recipes call for an old boiling fowl, but those can be hard to get hold of these days, while a whole chicken yields far more meat than is required here – by all means use one, strip off the meat and save the excess for something else entirely, such as a pie, but otherwise legs are a flavourful and economical choice. (Note, a whole chicken will serve eight and require double the other ingredients.)

2 Poach the chicken

Felicity Cloake’s cock-a-leekie 02

Put the legs, skin on, in a large pan with two litres of cold water and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.

Meanwhile, wash the leeks well, making sure you get rid of any grit lurking between the layers, then cut off the coarse green parts and set aside the whites until later.

3 Prep the vegetables

Wash and roughly chop the carrot – there’s no need to peel it, unless it’s filthy. If you like, add any celery, garlic, onions or old herbs in need of using up; peel the onion and garlic, but otherwise merely clean veg is sufficient, because you’ll discard them before serving. I prefer to keep things simple, though.

4 Add the veg, season and cook for two hours

Felicity Cloake’s cock-a-leekie 03

Once the pan is bubbling, skim again, then turn down the heat to the barest simmer and add the leek tops, carrot, bay leaf and any other veg. Season with salt and a good pinch of ground pepper, preferably white, for its gentler flavour, and leave to cook gently for two hours, checking occasionally that the mixture is not boiling.

5 Remove the vegetables and add the barley

Felicity Cloake’s cock-a-leekie 04

Remove and discard the carrot, bay leaf and leek greens, plus any other vegetables you’ve put in there (this is easiest done with tongs or a slotted spoon, so you lose as little of the broth as possible). Add the barley, if using, to the pot – you could swap in rice, spelt, oats or even small pasta shapes, in which case adjust the cooking time as necessary.

6 Add the leek whites

Cook the barley for 15 minutes (you can skip this part for oats or pasta, because it will cook in the same time as the leeks). Meanwhile, chop the reserved white part of the leeks into chunky rounds and, once the barley is starting to soften, add these to the pan, too, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until both are cooked through.

7 Remove the chicken and add the prunes

Felicity Cloake’s cock-a-leekie 05

While the leeks are cooking, roughly chop the prunes, removing the stones, if necessary. When the leeks and barley are ready, carefully lift the chicken legs out of the pan, again making sure to take out as little liquid as possible, and put in a bowl until cool enough to handle. Add the prunes to the pan, taste the broth and season as you see fit.

8 Pick the meat off the chicken

Put four bowls into a low oven to warm (or fill them with hot water). Pick the meat from the chicken, discarding the bones and skin (they should have given up all their flavour to the soup, so there’s not much point in keeping them for stock, unless it’s to flavour pet food). Divide the chicken meat between the bowls.

9 And serve

Reheat the broth and pour over the top of the chicken to serve, snipping a few chives, parsley leaves or celery tops over the top if you’d like a dash of colour, though I tend to confine the garnish to a little more pepper. Like almost all soups, this one is even better served with robust brown bread to mop up the last of the broth.


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Come on in! The exhilarating joy of outdoor ice-bathing | Swimming holidays

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The path to the water is treacherous. The snow has covered the ice making it slippery underfoot. It is 7.45 am and dark, but my friend Vicky and I have head torches and the moon is bright.

Our walk – prior to lockdown 2021 – is through the woods and down the path to the edge of Threipmuir reservoir in the Pentland hills, just south of Edinburgh. It is impossible to tell where the water starts as everything is covered in a thick layer of snow. And the snow is also coming down in earnest, landing on our eyelashes and into our dry bags, as we unpack and start to undress.

Once stripped to our swimsuits, neoprene boots, gloves and woolly hats, we approach the ice. A pickaxe makes little impact to begin with, but we continue with one of us using the axe while the other smashes away with boots and moves huge chunks of ice with our hands. It is quite a workout and seems so ridiculous that we laugh until we have tears rolling down our faces.

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Safety advice

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• Preparation is key as ice-bathing can potentially be a dangerous pastime in the UK, as we don’t have places, such as Finland, where there are 260 winter-swimming centres, which often include changing facilities and saunas – as well as specific entry and exit points in the ice. 

• Ice-bathing must always be approached with caution, never alone, and having risk assessed the location first. Acclimatise to cold water carefully, keeping your dip short and warming up quickly afterwards with layers of clothes and a hot drink. 

 • Going in to very cold water (typically less than 10C) can cause numbness and pain, particularly in the extremities, such as the hands and feet. Neoprene socks and gloves can help protect hands and feet. 

• The Outdoor Swimming Society has tips on how to acclimatise to cold water

After about five minutes, we start to make headway, working as a team to create a little plunge pool. When we visited two days previously we were able to clear a long swimming channel, but today the ice is too thick. A flock of Canada geese fly past, skimming the top of the ice, and a bullfinch hops around the shoreline, its pinkish plumage the only colour visible in this white landscape. Finally, we have cleared enough ice to swim.

Wendy and her friend Tracey break the ice.
Wendy and Tracey brave the ice

Preparation is key as ice-bathing can potentially be a dangerous pastime in the UK, as we don’t have the infrastructure of places such as Finland, where there are 260 winter-swimming centres which often include changing facilities and saunas – as well as specific entry and exit points in the ice. Here, we often need to look to more remote spots in order to find ice, which adds a huge element of risk to the process.

It must always be approached with caution, never alone, and having risk assessed the location first. Acclimatise to cold water carefully, keeping your dip short and warming up quickly afterwards with layers of clothes and a hot drink.

I lower myself down into the 0.8C water until my shoulders are beneath the surface, and try to calm my breathing and bring my heart rate down as I absorb the shock of the cold. Even though I have swum through four winters, my body’s automatic response to the extreme cold is still powerful.

I try to remain calm, swimming a few strokes and trying to avoid the ice shards, which can cut. Despite having gloves and socks, my fingers and toes are are numb, my body sending all available heat to my core. I feel utterly alive and exhilarated, though. But there is a fine line between fun and hypothermia, so we tear ourselves away as the dawn light turns the mountains pink. Beginners should stay in the water for two minutes maximum.

Ice swimming in Scotland
Vicky, the writer’s friend, takes the plunge

Then it is a race to warm up, using cold, muddled fingers to put socks on top of socks and more layers than you imagine possible, pouring hot drinks from flasks, doing star jumps and squats to get the body warmed back up. Though the massive rush of energy and unbridled joy far outweigh thoughts of frozen toes.

As we are packing up to leave, we hear belly laughs and people approaching through the snow, and then encounter three women armed with an axe and a rolling pin to continue what we started. As the hilarity of the moment hits them, Wendy Masterton tells us: “We’ve been cold-water swimming with ice around the edges before but this is the first time we’ll actually experience breaking the ice in order to get into the water.”

Outdoor swimming has seen a dramatic rise in popularity over the last year. As swimming pools closed due to Covid restrictions and holidays were cancelled, many people turned to their local beach, river, loch or lake to swim. And many have continued, despite the reopening of some pools during summer and early autumn. The Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) has seen website traffic increase by 46% to 785,000 unique users and membership increase 36% to 136,000; its Facebook group has grown by 73%.

In addition, local wild swimming groups have reported to the OSS growths in membership of their Facebook pages of between 50% to 500%. Open water lakes are also reporting a huge increase in visitors .

“Outdoor swimming is now part of the UK psyche, part of our love of free-spirited adventure,” says OSS founder Kate Rew. “People are looking for exercise and adventure closer to home, thousands have made this their time to embrace rivers, lakes and the sea. For some, it is about self-sufficiency and stoicism: the perfect activity for a life under the pressures of a pandemic. I think others are winter swimming to achieve a high that we can’t get anywhere else right now.”

A study by Dr Chris van Tulleken and Dr Mark Harper, published by the BMJ, discovered that “regular open-water swimming results in a post-swim ‘high’, triggered by the release of beta-endorphins, dopamine and serotonin. Furthermore, facial immersion in cold water stimulates the vagus nerve, resulting in an anti-inflammatory response.”

ice swimming in Scotland
‘Same time tomorrow?’

Ice swimming, once only attempted by a few hardy souls, has been dominating Instagram feeds this winter as more swimmers seek out the extreme cold. Claire Williams began outdoor swimming at Wardie Bay, Edinburgh, in May after losing her mother to dementia

“Outdoor swimming has helped me massively, the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made and also just the peace I’ve found from being in the cold water,” she says. “With the new research suggesting cold-water swimming wards off dementia, I will never ever give it up. I only wish my mum had been around to enjoy it with me.”

Cassandra Barron had her first ice swim at Threipmuir reservoir earlier this month after taking up swimming in the sea at Wardie Bay during the spring lockdown.

“I have swum every day in January so far and wanted to push myself further so I had my first exhilarating ice-swimming experience this week,” she says.

In Scotland [as in England], we are still able to exercise outdoors within our local area with one person from another household, so outdoor swimmers who live near water are able to meet with another person during this time, providing a lifeline for those who swim to help deal with the stress of the pandemic.

It might be extreme but immersing yourself in icy water is a wonderful way to fill up with endorphins, get a nature fix and have a thrilling adventure without having to travel.

The OSS’s tips on acclimatising to cold water

Taking The Plunge by Anna Deacon and Vicky Allan, is published by Black & White publishing. Follow Anna on Instagram at @wildswimmingstories



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The biggest secret parents keep? The life-changing brilliance of teenagers | Family

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A friend has fallen in love with Depop, the Gen Z fashion eBay, and its teen sellers. I downloaded the app on her recommendation, but I am bamboozled by the listings: a “perf lil crop top” appears to be a shirt collar and sleeves without any other shirt parts; a corset is “for dat peek-a-boo bad b lewwkkk … wear her alone and sessi or over your fav big T”. I feel 1,000 years old.

“I message them questions because the listings are lacking useful info, such as what size it is, and they answer almost entirely in emojis and put kisses after everything, and I love them,” says my friend.

The fashion is emphatically not for me, but I understand. She has stumbled on something that is, mysteriously, a closely guarded secret: how great teenagers are. There is a sort of omertà among parents of teens to talk only about the attitude and wet towels. Why? Do we want to keep them to ourselves?

Because nothing is as life-affirming as a half-hour audience with teenagers. I am not just saying it because I have two: I used to have toddlers, and you would never have heard me say they were basically misunderstood and a delight to be around.

Teenagers – not mine specifically – are creative, compassionate and careful of others; they are stoic about their constrained lives. Mine make me laugh and think constantly: this week alone about my attitude to other people’s success (wrong), my upper body strength (abysmal) and Japanese abstract expressionism (unexpected).

When we do talk positively about teens, it is in a breezy, how-marvellous-is-Greta-Thunberg way. This “young people will save us” discourse is well meant, but I hate it: it is a shrug of helplessness. Their mental health is in freefall, their present bleak and their future grimly unknowable. Teens are great, but, for all the ebullience, emojis and TikTok routines, they are fragile. It is still up to us to try to make things OK for them: we are the grownups, after all.


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‘Cancer made me pull my life together’: Zandra Rhodes on fun, fashion and Freddie Mercury | Fashion

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Zandra Rhodes was doing a yoga session with a friend in the early weeks of the pandemic when she realised that something was wrong. “It’s a funny story,” she says. “We were lying on our lilac mats in my rainbow penthouse, and I was breathing deeply – and my stomach felt full. And I thought, why is it full? I haven’t had a meal today.”

It turned out she had a tumour. “It was in the bile [duct] and going into whatever’s near it,” she says, vaguely. Treatment involved weeks travelling across a locked-down London for chemotherapy, followed by an immunotherapy regime that she is still on, even though she is happy to say that the tumour is in full remission. Her first thought after diagnosis was “to get my will in order with a power of attorney that included a do-not-resuscitate order. I was very lucky because I had no pain whatsoever. I just got very tired while I was having the chemo.”

Rhodes in her London home and studio.



Rhodes in her London home and studio. Photograph: Alecsandra Raluca Drăgoi/The Guardian

Not many people could make an anecdote out of a cancer diagnosis – but Rhodes is no ordinary person. At 80, she is a blaze of neon pink, fully made-up and strung about with beads the size of boulders, on a screen that gives a tantalising glimpse of that rainbow penthouse. Crammed with paintings, fabrics and ceramics, it sits on top of the Fashion and Textile Museum in the south London district of Bermondsey, which Rhodes opened in 2003 after hiring the Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta to convert an old warehouse.

Our conversation is scheduled for first thing in the morning because that’s when she feels freshest. “Go on,” she urges, “you can ask me anything. Anything at all.” Could it be, I venture, that Dame Zandra does the lockdown thing of dressing from the waist up? “Well,” she says, “I’m not in high heels, so I think at the moment the effect is that I’m one of those old ladies who might look right at the top but are in trainers at the bottom.” Then she lifts one foot and waggles it in front of her screen – it is indeed clad in a trainer, but the pinkest, sparkliest one you could imagine.

Princess Anne wearing her Zandra Rhodes wedding dress with Captain Mark Phillips in November 1973.



Princess Anne wearing her Zandra Rhodes wedding dress with Captain Mark Phillips in November 1973. Photograph: Keystone Press/Alamy

Rhodes has been one of the UK’s most sparkly celebrity designers since she began to make her name in the late 1960s. The list of people she has dressed is a 20th-century hall of fame, from Barbra Streisand to Freddie Mercury, Princess Diana to Diana Ross. She has made guest appearances on Absolutely Fabulous and the Archers – and cooked sausages on Celebrity MasterChef. She turned up at Buckingham Palace in 2014 with a large rhinestone egg on her head, to be invested as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Princess Anne, who had worn a Zandra Rhodes dress, in fairytale lace, for her official engagement photo 41 years earlier.

Rhodes with Princess Diana at Christie’s, New York, in June 1997, two months before Diana died.



Rhodes with Princess Diana at Christie’s, New York, in June 1997, two months before Diana died. Photograph: Tim Graham/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images

Her investiture hat was so over-the-top that one might almost suspect her of sending up the occasion, but she insists she is a staunch royalist, who would love to be let loose on the Duchess of Cambridge. Princess Diana, she says, was a dream to work with. She was “very, very shy” and dressing her gave a glimpse of the pressure she was under. “I made her white wrap dress, and she said she needed to know that it wouldn’t fall open and show her legs if she got out of a car, ‘Because, you can be sure that when I get out of that car, there’ll be people waiting at just the wrong angle to get me.’”

In the days before she settled for perma-pink, Rhodes’s own chameleonic styling occasionally got her into trouble – most memorably with Diana Ross. The singer turned up for a fitting in her London shop, and they hit it off so well that Rhodes was invited to the concert and to drinks afterwards. Six months later, she was driving through Beverly Hills with a friend when they spotted Ross getting out of a car. “My friend said: ‘Go and say hello,’ so I did. And she gave me this cold, cold stare, and said: ‘If you come one step closer, I will close this garage door on you.’”

Rhodes beat a hasty retreat, but when she got up the next morning, her bleary-eyed hosts told her the star had rung at 3am to apologise and fix up a breakfast date. “You see, in my shop I was wearing a white turban. What she saw getting out of the car and walking towards her was a girl with green hair with feathers stuck on the ends.”

Wasn’t there a bit of her that might have liked to have gone incognito while dealing with the indignities of cancer treatment, I ask. She responds by recalling a short-lived flirtation with dyeing her hair brown. It happened about 20 years ago because her boyfriend was very conservative, she says. “But it lasted for one week, until we went to a cocktail party and it was so embarrassing when people said they didn’t recognise me that it was easier just to be me. Also, I felt so boring. If I’ve got my hair and makeup on, it makes me face the day.”

Zandra Rhodes in 1970.



Zandra Rhodes in 1970. Photograph: Susan Wood/Getty Images

Boring is a word that crops up a lot as she talks – it’s the yin to her exhibitionist yang. Her look-at-me styling isn’t just for fun: it’s a shop window for a self-confessed workaholic, who for decades produced two of her own fashion collections a year, as well as off-the-peg ranges on commission: bras and bathrobes for Marks & Spencer, tents and wellies for outdoorsy Millets. In between, she has designed bathmats for Japan, saris for India and has now teamed up with Ikea to produce a range of 26 items, the first of which was revealed shortly before Christmas: a frilly pink take on the firm’s signature Frakta bag.

When she talks about her work, Rhodes always refers to herself in the plural; it’s not a self-aggrandising “royal we” but an acknowledgment of the hive of busy bees over which she presides. She is joined on our call – from another address – by Kelly, who handles the business side of the conversation, allowing Zandra to concentrate on being Zandra. Kelly is one of “my girls”. Another, Hayley, works with her on her textile designs, while Lottie is a live-in student, who is helping her to archive more than 50 years of clothes and sketches. “We formed a household of two people, which is wonderful,” she says. “We can take turns at cooking because it gets terribly boring if you’re only cooking for one.”

Which brings us to the other life-changing event of the past 18 months – the death of her longtime partner Salah Hassanein, an Egyptian-born Hollywood mover and shaker whom she met at a New York charity ball. It was for Hassanein that she conducted her short-lived experiment with going brown, and for the past 25 years she has spent half of every year at his California home, becoming part of the local social scene, and designing costumes for the San Diego Opera Company. He reciprocated by backing her change of direction in the 1990s, which involved shutting all her London outlets to concentrate on developing her museum.

Rhodes, centre, in the BBC’s The Real Marigold Hotel.



Rhodes, centre, in the BBC’s The Real Marigold Hotel. Photograph: BBC/Twofour

She was swanning around India, as part of TV’s The Real Marigold Hotel, when she was summoned to his deathbed in the summer of 2019, forcing her to abandon the series. Since they had never married, and she had conducted her transatlantic life on work visas, she wasn’t allowed back to collect her possessions when his house was being cleared out. But about this, too, she shows not a jot of self-pity. “It was always understood that if I wasn’t with him, I was going to pack up essential things like, say, wonderful mirrored pictures and different artworks, but my poor secretary had to do it. They’ve all been shipped back to me now, so everything is here in London – and the memories of him as well.”

The Ikea commission brings her full circle back to her origins as a designer of home furnishing fabrics. She only moved into fashion because nobody would hire her, she says, even though she had been the star student of her year at art college. Reckoning that Carnaby Street was where it was at, she talked her way into a role designing fabrics for the cutting-edge boutique Foale and Tuffin. “I suppose I came into being with trendy Carnaby Street and Beatles,” she says, “although I never met a Beatle at that time.”

It was all very different from life in the Kentish town of Chatham, where she grew up, the older of two sisters, surrounded by her mother’s sewing magazines. Beatrice Rhodes had worked as a fitter in Paris for the couturier Worth before settling down to become a lecturer at Medway College of Design (now part of the University for the Creative Arts).

Rhodes at the Fashion and Textile Museum that she created in Bermondsey, south London.



Rhodes at the Fashion and Textile Museum that she created, designed by the architect Ricardo Legorreta, in Bermondsey, south London. Photograph: David Sillitoe/The Guardian

“She was a very exotic woman, who was very encouraging with my schoolwork,” says Rhodes, who talks often of her mother, but has always been less forthcoming about her lorry driver father. The couple met as ballroom dance champions, but the dancefloor proved to be all they had in common. “Truthfully,” Rhodes says, “I don’t think they should ever have got married”.

Her mother’s exacting work ethic extended to family holidays, where she would busy herself knitting, while her daughters worked on jigsaws – both of which activities would turn up as recurrent motifs in Rhodes’ designs. “I was just a very boring, hard-working student. I was always top in art and I worked hard to be top in all the other things,” she says of her schooldays.

At first, she thought she wanted to be an illustrator, and she still has sketchbooks from her childhood showing a precocious talent. But reluctantly, she followed her mother to Medway college, where a charismatic tutor lured her into textile design. From there, she won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art, where she was introduced to the music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the art of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, while starting to experiment with the effect on fabric design of draping it around the human body. “I was proud to be a textile designer, and I did not feel I was inferior to a painter or a sculptor. It was my metier,” she later wrote. She graduated with first class honours, and sold her degree print to Heal’s.

In the four hand-to-mouth years after graduating (her designs were considered just too far-out for ordinary homes) she taught herself to cut fabrics, set up a print studio with her then boyfriend Alex MacIntyre, and created a home that was a homage to pop art – “a perfect world of plastic”. To pay the bills, she took part-time teaching jobs at art colleges, but hated doing so. Desperate to escape this new sort of boring, she set up a boutique in Fulham with a teaching colleague, Sylvia Ayton, and by the time it opened in 1967 she had already built up a buzz: Joe Cocker sang at the launch.

Natalie Wood wearing a hand-printed dress designed by Zandra Rhodes for Vogue in 1970.



Natalie Wood wearing a hand-printed dress designed by Zandra Rhodes for Vogue in 1970. Photograph: Gianni Penati/Conde Nast/Getty Images

But the shop only lasted a year, and in 1969 she launched her first solo collection, investing a small inheritance from her mother – who had died when Rhodes was only 24 – in a networking trip to the US. There, she caught the eye of American Vogue, which hired the starlet Natalie Wood to model one of her designs. The glamorous yellow coat made from homely felt is now in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, along with several other gowns from that first collection.

The development of her signature style went beyond the clothes she was designing, to her own look. “I tell kids who are starting off that if you’re a designer, and you don’t wear your own things, then what are you selling?” she says. At first, it involved “lots of makeup and cheap rings”. She would buy “crazy colours” from Woolworths to paint her face, and looked so outlandish that Ayton once suggested that she was scaring customers away. Before long, her own makeup was mirroring her fashion collections – her eyebrows plucked bare to make a stage for the calligraphic monobrows of Chinese opera or the beaded lines of Masai culture, which she observed on her extensive research trips.

But mostly she led a low-key life, she insists. She has always travelled with a sketchbook in hand, returning to the constant anxiety of trying to craft high-fashion concepts from what she had seen: “People always think if you’ve got pink hair that you’re frightfully trendy, and you know what’s going on, when actually you’re usually working in a boring attic, trying to come up with ideas.”

Freddie Mercury wearing a Zandra Rhodes creation with a makeup artist before going on stage at a London concert in 1974.



Freddie Mercury wearing a Zandra Rhodes creation with a makeup artist before going on stage at a London concert in 1974. Photograph: South Coast Press/REX/Shutterstock

It was in one of those attics, just off Portobello Road in west London, that Freddie Mercury and Brian May paid her a visit in 1974. “They came at night because I didn’t have a changing room, and I’d lift things off the rail and say: ‘Try it on. See how you feel moving around in it.’” The result of that fitting was the white pleated top – originally part of a wedding ensemble – that will always be associated with the Queen singer’s androgynous phase, and particularly with Bohemian Rhapsody. “Freddie was very quiet until he put on that top,” she recalls. “He only came once, but Brian had several outfits because for some reason his kept getting stolen.”

In 1977, she forsook glam for punk, releasing a collection – Conceptual Chic – that brought safety pins and sink chains into couture. No real punk would have given her the time of day, she points out. “I just saw it as an art form. It’s very difficult to cut a piece of fabric to look like a tear. We put beads on the slashes, and they looked lovely. I suppose you could say we put the glam into punk.” Decades later, Gianni Versace would repeat the look with Elizabeth Hurley’s famous safety-pin dress. Among the treasure Rhodes had shipped back from the US was a collection of “knockoffs” – pictures of designs that she felt copied her own. “Knockoff or homage, it’s whatever you want to call it,” she says.

For all the jokes about dry cleaners returning her clothes with the rips neatly darned and the safety pins in plastic bags, her buyers have always been aware that they were buying artworks (not least because Rhodes would tell them so, in notes printed on silk squares that she would send out with each commission). Every creation is catalogued and photographed; in a nod to Victorian lepidopterology, she calls them “my butterflies”.

How will she fare now that she is confined to her penthouse? She will continue to work as normal, she says, cooking for her “girls” when permitted to do so, and shooting off occasional letters to Radio 4 to complain about Archers plotlines. She’s ambassador for an upcoming touring art installation, Gratitude, to celebrate NHS workers, for which “we” are designing one of the figures.

Then there’s the business of setting her affairs in order. Everything she has ever made is recorded in “the bible” – her name for the sketchbooks she has carried with her around the world and that now sit alongside some 15,000 “butterflies” in 100 silver chests, waiting to be catalogued, distributed to museums around the world, or sold off to raise money for her foundation, which she set up last year to secure her legacy. She’s not going to allow herself to be forgotten as, she grumbles, so many great British fashion designers have been. “The fact is,” she says, “for some reason when I was diagnosed with cancer, it didn’t upset me – it made me pull my life together.”


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