At a dinner on Wednesday night, at which the hostess, as ever, was in one of her proper designer dresses (she doesn't do high street, and nor of course would I if I were rich) I wore, after a lot of hesitation, a two-year-old purple silk dress from Hobbs, which is a British mid-range chain. And was gratified to get an email the next morning remarking on my 'beautiful dress'.
For years I simply ignored Hobbs, the epitome of English rose ware (what you wear if you can afford better than Boden) dull and dated, until I actually saw the purple dress in the window of the Kings Road branch and bought it. Last year I bought an excellent pair of wide-leg black trousers. This summer I bought a plain blue unlined linen jacket to wear with a simple white very hot weather dress. (We have to cover the arms). The range was not exciting but you could find the occasional useful piece.
I now read, from the pen of the fabulous Polly Vernon in the Observer, that Hobbs is hot:
We did not see this one coming. Hobbs – previously the spiritual home of the uninspired day-dress, the enduring-but-dull crew-neck knit and not very much else, let's be honest – has come up with a storming collection of clothes for autumn/winter 2008. These pieces are brilliant: sharply tailored, totally dramatic, with significant fashion edge. We're especially enamoured of the silken cocktail frock with the feather ruff (and why wouldn't we be? It's exquisite!); but we'd be pretty happy with any of it, really.
The Hobbs revelation compounds Observer Woman's strongly-held theory (first expounded in the mag, by me, in the December '07 issue,) that mid-market grown-up lady fashion is going to rule the world, any day now. To wit: Whistles totally rocks under Jane Shepherdson, Banana Republic's had such an amazing inaugural season in the UK that it hasn't even bothered getting itself into a dirty summer-sale scenario, and Jaeger's incoming collection is blowing our minds. We love it when we're right.
I already have one piece from the Jaeger collection and plan to buy more.