Betty Jackson: Fashion, style and secrets of the British high street

From the Royal Society of Arts lecture, delivered by the fashion designer in Birmingham
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The Independent Online

The British high street must be the quickest in the world. After a fashion show, everything is so quickly available here. By the time the last girl has gone off the catwalk it's worldwide.

When we started out you wouldn't show the collection to buyers until the day of the fashion show. The colours were kept secret, the shapes were kept secret. It sounds so old fashioned now.

But now selling starts six weeks before the show. It's available to everybody within seconds. But I think it's a good thing. I don't think it should be frightening.

There very little differentiation between style and fashion today. Stylists are coming in and manipulating fashion. Jean Muir always said that fashion was an abused term because she always thought it should be much more to do with the "make" process. To fashion a garment means that you make and you're hands-on.

The whole thing has got confused. I think they have become merged but that's because of the celebrity thing, things being more available, things moving a bit quicker. It does get merged.

I think it is quite important to keep them separate. There are designers of fashion and I think there are stylists and I think they are two completely different things.

If I was in charge of Marks & Spencer I would do exactly what Stuart Rose is doing now. The big problem with Marks & Spencer is that it is run by grey-suited men who don't wear the product and they really don't know. And Stuart Rose I think is going to change that.

Nobody really wants Marks & Spencer to fail; when it nearly did there were suddenly articles in the newspapers saying "Oh my god, you know, it's our local store". I think if they really do what they are good at I think it will be fine.