Ready to Wear: How times have changed since yours truly sweated over a sewing machine

Aged 11, I made a zip-fronted, cherry red shift dress printed with white daisies for a school project.

I bought the fabric after hours of what I then considered to be serious research (daisies or buttercups?). It came from John Lewis – obviously. But any diligence aside, if ever I was contemplating a career as a designer the fact that I had grown out of said garment by the time it was finished perhaps suggested my life would follow a different path. Would things have been different if I had been Lourdes Ciccone? Judging by press reports that – at all of 13 – she is currently designing not a single dress but an entire collection, the answer is surely a resounding yes.

Is that a good thing? It depends on whether you belong to the camp of people who believe that, truly, Victoria Beckham, or even Kate Moss, are accomplished designers. Ms Ciccone is debatably as qualified for the job as either of these two – to say that fashion is in her blood is an understatement. Is she – or indeed Beckham or Moss – likely to embark on a lifelong search for the perfect sleeve-to-shoulder ratio à la Cristobal Balenciaga, though? I think not.

And that, lamentable to any fashion purist out there, is clearly no longer the point. It must surely be cause for concern for at least some designers – particularly young designers – who have worked hard to learn their craft that their future may turn out to be not unlike that of a ghost writer's. Instead of designing under their own names, any hard-come-by skills, not to mention natural talent, will be used to make the rich and famous more rich and famous still. Such designers will make a living too, of course, but it's safe to assume that theirs will not be the majority cut in the business.

The new collection in question is called Material Girl and is due to debut later this summer. It is, according to the powers that be behind its conception – unsurprisingly, mother Madonna in partnership with Iconix Brand Group – a junior line based on the superstar's early wardrobe, before she discovered designer-made conical bras and when fingerless fishnet gloves and cycling shorts were the order of the day.

I loved that look – and so, it seems, does Lourdes. "It has been mostly designed and chosen by Lourdes herself," wrote one paper last week, apparently without a trace of irony. How times have changed since yours truly sweated over a Singer sewing machine way back when, in the belief that, one day, designer status might be hers.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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