Betty Jackson: 'I wear black all the time. It's just laziness'


My work has always taken precedence over my kids That's why, 18 months ago, I decided that I needed to step back and have a break from it all. I'd shown at London Fashion Week twice a year for 20 years and it's relentless, season after season. Yet there were so many things I wanted to do, such as visit the pyramids!

London Fashion Week started in a car park It was 1984; we were the brave new face of fashion and the British fashion industry was frightened to death of it: colourful wild prints, huge shoulder-pads, patterns mixed together and androgyny. The old infrastructure of British fashion – the classic fusty tailoring of Austin Reed – looked old-fashioned, but they didn't take us seriously.

Ossie Clark was a genius But when I joined his company as a young designer in the 1970s, he wouldn't speak to me. He'd always cut me dead, until six months later it registered with him that I was still there. I think he had a magic vision, though, as he flattered women by cutting cloth that made them look great.

Women should think for themselves about fashion There's so much choice out there; women should take a long hard look and decide what suits them, and not worry about what the celebrities are wearing, with all that overt sexiness. I can't do that stuff – and I hate the whole celebrity thing.

I'm in the business of making people feel better Fashion can give anyone confidence; clothing is a supporting act. I like comfort, and keeping to the right side of femininity without falling into girly frothiness.

There's too much stuff in the world It leads to mountains of waste that we're all responsible for. If you go to the town of Agra in India, say, it's shocking that you can find the most beautiful sights of Mughal architecture, but the town is a rubbish dump, which is shocking.

I received hate mail for the robes I designed for judges We were invited to come up with some designs by the Lord Chief Justice Phillips in 2008, as he wanted something easier to put on, but it turned into a poisoned chalice. It was incredibly easy to wear but some high-court judges asked, "How dare you meddle in a 700-year tradition?" And I got insults galore. Some said it looked like a cross between a Star Trek costume and a fascist stormtrooper's uniform, but I thought it looked good!

I wear black all the time It's just laziness. My favourite item of clothing is a pair of black trousers. Occasionally I have been known to venture out in a violent, navy blue.

Betty Jackson CBE, 63, is a British fashion designer. She opened her flagship store on west London's Brompton Road in 1991. She has since collaborated with retailers such as Debenhams and Marks & Spencer, helping launch its first Autograph collection (

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