LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which I look back on my life in fashion

LIZ JONES’S DIARY: In which I look back on my life in fashion

  • Liz Jones explains that she has had a love/hate relationship with fashion 
  • UK-based writer says she’s struggle with her style since the age of five 
  • She writes about her journey with clothing and labels since this young age 

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with fashion since I was five. It was the era of the Beatles, pop art and psychedelia, so I sewed black and white stripes on to my Brownie beret and chose paisley needlecord in Bonds, which my mum made into a mini. I stole my mum’s knitting patterns with Twiggy on the cover and stuck them on my wall. I believed wearing nice clothes would make people like me and, later, love me. 

How wrong would I be! Having pored over every issue of Vogue since 1977, I landed a job on a fashion magazine in 1980, just in time to become obsessed with Diana’s wardrobe. As I was lowly, I only wangled a ticket to one show: Mulberry at the Hard Rock Cafe. It turned my head. I bought a grey silk blouson from the store behind Oxford Street. 

Liz Jones explains that she has had a love/hate relationship with fashion. UK-based writer says she's struggle with her style since the age of five. ILLUSTRATION: Tom Peake at Meiklejohn

Liz Jones explains that she has had a love/hate relationship with fashion. UK-based writer says she’s struggle with her style since the age of five. ILLUSTRATION: Tom Peake at Meiklejohn

I moved on to The Sunday Times in the late 80s to work on the solitary ‘woman’s’ page we were deemed worthy of having. I idolised the fashion editors: the Chanel-clad Meriel McCooey, the buffalo-gal-clad Caroline Baker. We once had the bright idea of photographing the day’s supermodels – Naomi Campbell et al – by squishing them on a photocopier. 

Despite getting into trouble for making Ossie Clark furious, and having launched Style, I was made editor of a glossy in the late 90s. There’s the pale moon of my face, front row at Alexander McQueen’s ‘Voss’ show. McQueen was diverse before that word was fashionable: he put double amputee Aimee Mullins on his catwalk, elegant on carved wooden legs. There I am again at Hussein Chalayan’s autumn 2000 collection, when the model stepped into a coffee table, transforming it into a skirt. I strained my neck to gaze at fireworks on the lawns of Versailles after John Galliano’s 60th anniversary show for Dior in 2007, when Gisele Bündchen emerged in a Bar Suit and I had to pinch myself that a girl from Essex had even been allowed inside. I was amused by the largest paella in the world being stirred on the terrace, even though those present were the least likely people on the planet to eat it. 

I believed wearing nice clothes would make people like me 

Fashion did, though, skew my judgment, made me believe £350 for a Gucci shirt was reasonable. There were humiliating moments, too. Being told by a fellow fashion editor I couldn’t share her town car back to central Paris: ‘But I’m in Louboutins!’ Instructed by a PR to ‘stand by a wall’ at Donna Karan. Being thrown out of the Christopher Kane and Tom Ford shows for daring to voice dissent. Some triumphs. In Milan, I interviewed young Peta protestors who had been dragged by their hair from the Burberry catwalk. I persuaded Roberto Cavalli, whose catwalk was also stormed, to admit it was ‘the worst moment of my life’. I made Philip Green so livid, he called to ask me to return his Topshop Unique greatcoat. 

JONES MOANS… WHAT LIZ LOATHES THIS WEEK 

  • In M&S Harrogate, next to a section entitled Mom, ‘Why add toggles, epaulettes, floral lining and a faux-fur collar to a scratchy peacoat?’ I wail. ‘You could always remove the collar,’ says an 80-year-old woman with misplaced loyalty.
  • The man in Dolce trying to sell me a pair of spangled embroidered-with-cherubsand-roses trousers says, ‘The fact they are cropped stops them being too classic.’ 

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My husband later called me and my fashionista world ‘vacuous’, despite the fact I exposed child labour in garment factories in Dhaka and banned cadavers from my pages. 

As well as armour, fashion for me is an escape. No longer immersed in that world, privy to freebies, I do the following: visit a dress online, choose my size, place it in my virtual basket and let it sit there, imagining how transformed my life would be if I own it. I did this for months with a pair of £375 Maharishi Snopants. I bought the same pair in Liberty when made editor, wore them on my honeymoon. Unlike me, they were so loved the fabric disintegrated, revealing my Hanro knickers. I kidded myself that were I to own them again, I could go back to being part of the cool crowd who migrated from Lake Como and dinner with Donatella before taking tea with Sadie Frost at Hotel Costes in Paris. I insisted on staying at the Costes for the couture shows, a place so dark I emerged one morning into the lobby like Stevie Wonder, mistakenly groping Victoria Beckham, rigid with indignant shock at reception. 

I own the Snopants again. I bought a pair in the sale, as the PR, when I asked to borrow a pair for a shoot, said snootily, ‘Can you tell me the narrative of the piece?’ Needless to say, I remain unloved.

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