Betty Jackson takes a break from London fashion week after 60 shows

Betty Jackson says she is not closing her company or retiring but is taking a 'gap year' from the London fashion week catwalk

Betty Jackson, one of the best-known names in British fashion, is taking a "gap year" from the catwalk after 60 successive shows at London fashion week.

Jackson's unexpected absence from the schedule will come as a shock to fashion week organisers, who had already allocated her a slot on September's provisional catwalk schedule published last week.

The Betty Jackson label has been a steady presence over three tumultuous decades in British fashion. While other designers have sold up, gone bankrupt or sought fame at fashion weeks abroad, Jackson has retained ownership and control of her company since it was founded in 1981.

"We are not closing the company, and I am definitely not retiring," the designer insisted, adding that the decision was "unaffected by market forces, health or anything other than our desire for change."

The autumn/winter 2012 collection will be the last to be sold in Betty Jackson's London boutique, which will close next spring. When production begins again, the focus is likely to be on wholesale and online sales – although, she said, "I love having a store, because you get that immediate customer reaction, so reopening is something we will consider."

Jackson will continue to design her diffusion range for Debenhams, to play an active role on the Council of the Royal College of Art and to work for the Dress for Success charity. She is a member of the board of Skillset, an organisation that matches talented young people with the skills the creative industry needs so that, Jackson explained, "they can become great product designers or technical specialists, rather than all trying to be catwalk designers".

"I am really passionate about this and excited at the prospect of having more time to devote to it. 'Giving back' is a terrible phrase, but I am really pleased I will have more time and energy to contribute," she said.

Betty Jackson was born in Bacup in Lancashire in 1949, worked with Ossie Clarke in the 1970s, became a star in her own right in the 1980s, designed costumes for Patsy and Edina in Absolutely Fabulous in the 1990s and was made CBE in 2007.

Contributor

Jess Cartner-Morley

The GuardianTramp

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