The designer, who founded her label in 1981, told the Guardian that her choice had nothing to do with the financial health of the company or negative market forces.
‘I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but the time seems right now. I want time to re think and re-assess,’ she wrote in an email.
There’s more to Jackson’s hiatus than a designer taking an extended holiday, however. In the absence of new collections to fill its shelves, the Betty Jackson boutique in London will shut its doors next spring after selling the A/W ’11 collection.
She plans to spend her ‘gap year’ travelling and devoting her energies to a number of charitable organisations.
‘Someone pointed out to me that on gap years, people go to Thailand, get drunk and have an inappropriate tattoo! Sounds quite attractive!’ she told us.
‘I will be travelling quite a bit. It will be a luxury to take the time to re visit places I’ve been to before and to some I haven’t... Also to give a bit more time to all the organisations and charities I’m connected with who really don’t get the feedback they signed up for. Sounds a bit naff, but there are a couple that I’m planning to meddle in and give a bit back.’
Jackson serves on the Council of the Royal College of Art. She volunteers with the Dress for Success charity and Skillset, a group that trains young people for creative industry careers. She will also continue designing her Betty Jackson Black line for Debenhams.
The decision comes as a surprise to LFW organisers, who allocated Jackson a slot on the provisional schedule released last week. Although Jackson won’t be showing her own collection, she said she expects partake in LFW activities. ‘I’ll definitely go to some [shows] if I get an invite. I’ve already been asked to comment on a few. But I’ll be there supporting!’
While any observer might think the cessation of Jackson’s mainline reduces her timetable of commitments from ‘impossible’ to merely ‘stretching it’, she’s excited.
‘There’s still lots to do, don’t want to get bored!’ she said. ‘But it will be a hugely reduced workload compared to my usual schedule, and one I’m looking forward to!’