Debenhams’ coterie of designers just keeps getting stronger. The latest to join a stable which already includes Jasper Conran, John Rocha, Betty Jackson, Matthew Williamson and Ben de Lisi, is Ted Baker.
The brand, which was founded in Glasgow by the (Jewish) Ray Kelvin, has created a lingerie and sleepwear collection called B by Ted Baker, exclusively for Debenhams stores nationwide.
Ahem, jumpsuits. You will have been reading about them intermittently since April in the glossies and the fashion pages — including this one — but have you yet seen a woman over the age of 17 (celebs in Grazia and Hello apart) actually wearing one?
No, nor me — which is a pity, because the jumpsuit is a stylish, quite grown-up option if you find the right one.
The perennial desirability of white for high summer — both in practical terms for reflecting light, thus making it cooler than dark shades, and aesthetics (nothing looks quite as fabulous on a hot day as icy white) — means that designers return to this particular monochrome every few summers. They cater for a clientele who are unperturbed by weather and possibly less bothered by the extra laundering that is necessary to keep white looking good.
Most fashion pages - these included - proceed from the premise that the majority of its readers are "average" size. In our (ok, my) fluffy, fashion-obsessed head, that translates as size eight to 14, height 5ft 3in to 5ft 7in. In fact, the reality is somewhat different.
The "average" clothing size of British women these days is 16 (up from 14 in 2000, and 12 in 1988), and the average height for UK women is 5 ft 4in.
When I lived in the so-called Golden Triangle south of Manchester in the 70s, it was a lot easier to shop for frocks. There was plenty of enviable merchandise then as now, but it was a lot more obvious where to find than it is for shoppers today.
Take the seasonal imperative to get away in mid-summer to somewhere reliably hot and sunny; add the desire to uncurl on a lounger beneath an umbrella sipping an iced drink with nothing more pressing to do than choose between listening to Midlake on the iPod or reading the next chapter of the latest Freedland/Kelsey/Green novel. And then add the fact that airlines are squeezing our baggage allowances ever further. It all means that this is the time of year when, unless you habitually fly business or first, you will be forced to think hard about packing - and doing so with maximum efficiency.
You can’t turn the pages of a glossy magazine these days without seeing a gorgeous, 50-plus woman proving that hitting a certain age does not mean invisibility and elastic waistbands. There was Anna Wintour in Carolina Herrera at the recent Council of Fashion Designers of America awards; Meryl Streep at the Oscars looking fabulous in a white draped gown; Katherine Bigelow, 59 also at the Oscars, in indigo YSL; Lulu, 61, with yet another terrific haircut…
Living in the UK, with its distinctly unpredictable summer weather, you need to be deliriously optimistic to buy even one pair of properly summery shoes, since there is every chance they may never be worn.
Jewish designers are generously scattered across the higher echelons of the fashion industry - take, for a start, Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs. What's more, Jews head up some of the biggest fashion businesses - think Sir Philip Green at Arcadia, Harold Tillman at Jaeger, the Burstein family of Browns and Lewis Trading Group of River Island. However, at the student end of the spectrum, we are not so well represented.