Sunday, 16 October 2011

Do we need Mary Portas?


I started to pick up, via some comments on a couple of blogs that those across the pond are receiving nothing but good vibrations from the hermetically sealed world of Mary Portas. This brilliant article is very good and pretty much sums up how I feel.

That said the hypocrisy of the Guardian is breathtaking since all the clothes they ever feature in their supplements are for a size 8.

I initially felt some level of empathy with Portas, during her first series Mary Queen of Shops, she appeared to have some good ideas, but as the programmes rolled on she became a grotesque caricature not helped by the ubiquitous repetitive editing by Chanel 4, a company past master at the art of stretching 20 minutes of good television into 60 minutes of repetitive drivel.

The hype around this venture is completely disproportionate to her talent, the article which I could have written myself (it's so spot on, seriously, how long have I been saying it's not age but size and poor cut that causes problems for older women.) Despite Portas's constant harping on about the lack of choice for women over 40 I have managed very successfully to dress myself from a whole range of shops. No, not just COS, but also Zara, Muji, Toast, Kew, The White Company, Banana Republic, +J Uniqlo even GAP to name a few.
I look for a good cut and even better fabrics that drape and fold and hide. Poor fabrics cling and need ironing and I'm not prepared to iron ever!
So what are my gripes?
-Portas appears to wear mostly high end designer clothes when did she last shop on a high street? Has she not heard of COS?
-In this country we produce some of the best designers in the world, why do we need someone untrained to design for 'us'? It's insulting.
-Why is Portas so hostile to the younger market? My girls wear my clothes, surely we should not teach them age discrimination at such an early age.
-And like everyone who commented on the Guardian article, why when Portas is so forceful at pushing her own philosophy onto others could she not accept some of the more negative comments from her Guinea Pigs?

One of my all time favourite soundbites came from one of her more eloquent guinea pigs 'Pen'

"My body is better than this dress"

YES, she was so right.


Claire Cooper said...

very true - I have avoided watching, as I just knew I'd be annoyed. think I'd rather watch Trinny & Susannah.

Toby Wollin said...

I'm, ahem, old enough to remember the last time there was a range for 'women of a certain age' here in the US. It was called 'half sizes' and I remember the displays of them in the department stores of my youth: black, navy blue, dark blue, brown. Little lacy collars, longer hems (and this was in 1970s). Lots of gathers in the shoulders to accommodate larger busts - every one of them a version of dresses that were designed for 'mature women' in the 1940s!! Now, part of this is that at that time, women who were over 50 were OLD, period - they were born in 1920, did not have the advantages of good nutrition, good medical care, antibiotics, and so on. "50 is the new 40" did not happen until later. I remember a teacher I had in elementary school - my memory of her was that she dressed in those half sizes, had white hair (beautiful but white). She acted old. I met her in the early 1970s in a store - she looked exactly the same. She told me she'd just retired. She was 65, which means that when I had her in the 6th grade, she'd been 55. So, no clothing for 'older women' - better fit, please.

indigo16 said...

Claire, forgot to say, yes I have seen many, many drawings and paintings by Barbara Rae, like me she does not scale up very well, so her small sketchbook ones are so much better than her large scale paintings.
I wish I had avoided it too, but I am like a rabbit in the headlights!
Toby, glad you agree, I was looking at a photograph of my grandmother recently and worked out she was in her mid forties but looked in her sixties, there was nothing for a woman of a certain size to wear in the seventies I think she would have looked amazing if she were still alive now with the choice there is if you look hard enough.