Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Gemma Tries It On: 'I'm channelling Sharon Stone, circa Basic Instinct'


I didn't realise what I was doing when I went on my quest to find a nice wool roll-neck jumper to go with my cream, ciré, Miu Miu skirt. Was I trying to emulate Steve Jobs, Diane Keaton, Ron Burgundy or even Louis Walsh? No. The key inspiration was unmistakably Sharon Stone, circa Basic Instinct. I'm actually quite OK with that; I loved that film when I was younger and I remember going to the hairdresser's to ask them for that up-do. The look is obviously in my blood.

I'm not the only one who is channelling Ms Stone of late – she was the inspiration behind both Moschino and Julien Macdonald's spring/summer shows. But I'm far more of a Basic Instinct kind of a girl as opposed to Casino – too much halter neck.

I am already the owner of one lovely 'rolo-neck' – as I have called them since I was a small child. I'm not sure why: probably a hybrid of 'roll' and 'polo' neck – that, and the knack I have of miss-hearing the correct pronunciation of things. My family's favourites over the years: "bombzitit" – as in, "This room looks like a bomb has hit it" and calling the people of Liverpool "Liverpeedians".

Anyway, this rolo-neck was a sale purchase, but the Balenciaga knit is a bit of a beast, so chunky is the cable-knit and so tight is the neck that it's far too hot to wear under a coat and I get rather claustrophobic whenever I put it on. What I needed was a thin knit, a cashmere one ideally – and one that wasn't going to suffocate me.

So I went to two places I thought I would find one. Firstly, M&S, which does have nice ones in beige and navy for the reasonable price of £75, but I moved too slowly and the only sizes left could have fitted two of me. Uniqlo I thought would be a sure thing, but only 'V' and round necks were to be found this season.

Stumped, I scoured the internet until a friend suggested John Smedley. Of course! I went for the 'Catkin' in charcoal (£135, johnsmedley.com), as white would possibly be too much. Due to my faffing, I didn't receive it in time to wear to the shows in Paris, but at least I was safe in the knowledge that, this time next week, I would look as smart as Sharon in her heyday.

As I sat in Paris watching the oh-so-chic Celine show, there it was, the rolo-neck jumper. I knew I was on to something.

Gemma Hayward is Fashion Editor of 'The Independent'