The Duchess of Cambridge‘s favourite designer branded a Government minister a ‘coward’ today as the fashion industry lashed out over post-Brexit trade chaos with the EU.
In an astonishing attack, Alice Temperley and legendary model Yasmin Le Bon took aim at Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden after he suggested fashionistas use their ‘star power’ to get Brussels to back down on rules stifling trade since January.
Earlier this month 450 leading industry figures including Dame Vivienne Westwood warned that the Brexit agreement would madly damage the £35billion industry due to cross-border levies and visa restrictions
But in his reply to an open letter organised by the Fashion Roundtable, Mr Dowden laid all the blame at Brussels door and said it was up to them to change the rules, adding: ‘I trust you will also lend your star power to these efforts, and call on them to make life easier for fashion professionals working in countries across the EU.’
Ms Temperley, who designed a sleek green dress worn by Pippa Middleton to her sister’s wedding reception in 2011, and has also been regularly worn by Kate, told the Sunday Times: ‘For the government to come back with this, they are hiding, they are cowards.
Alice Temperley famously designed Pippa Middleton’s emerald green gowns for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding reception in 2011 (left) and other works for the Duchess herself (right)
Ms Temperley told the Sunday Times: ‘For the government to come back with this, they are hiding, they are cowards’
In his reply to an open letter organised by the Fashion Roundtable, Mr Dowden laid all the blame at Brussels door and said it was up to them to change the rules, adding: ‘I trust you will also lend your star power to these efforts, and call on them to make life easier for fashion professionals working in countries across the EU.’
Ms Le Bon added: ‘We rarely speak up for ourselves for fear of seeming uncool, but this is about more, it’s about hundreds of thousands of jobs that may potentially be lost’
‘The government likes to entertain us during fashion week when we are all invited to 10 Downing Street to meet the prime minister.
‘But now the government isn’t here to help, there is no voice, there is no guidance and there is no clarity on the situation. No one is talking about the fashion industry.’
Ms Le Bon added: ‘We rarely speak up for ourselves for fear of seeming uncool, but this is about more, it’s about hundreds of thousands of jobs that may potentially be lost.
For once we need to be listened to and for the government to work with us before it is too late.’
However, sources hit back at the accusations, telling MailOnline there was a certain amount of ‘internal fashion politics’ involved, with the Roundtable not involved in discussions with the Government and ‘a lot of work going on behind the scenes’ to address issues being faced by the industry.
In the letter to Mr Dowden, the fashion leaders wrote: ‘The fashion and textiles industry is the largest component of the previously thriving UK creative industries, growing 11 per cent annually, bringing vital jobs and innovation to the UK. We contribute more to UK GDP than fishing, music, film and motor industries combined.
‘Yet we have been disregarded in this deal and our concerns overlooked in current policy decisions.
‘This has significantly impacted our opportunity to build back better and grow our onshoring manufacturing, digital innovation and sustainable design and technology in the UK, where we now, more than ever, have the real chance to show global leadership.
‘Everyone working across the EU, our largest trading partner for imports and exports, will now need costly work permits for each of the member states they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their products and equipment.
‘This is a step backwards and out of touch with the realities of how the sector works. From travelling to the EU for trade shows to large value shoots and shows happening here in the UK, red tape delays and costs are impacting our industry already, with work relocating to the EU, all impacting our opportunities to trade and travel.’
A government spokeswoman said: ‘We are working closely with businesses in the fashion industry – including UK Fashion and Textiles and the British Fashion Council who represent a significant part of the industry – to ensure they get the support they need to trade effectively with the EU, and seize new opportunities as we strike trade deals with the world’s fastest growing markets.
‘We have also established a new creative and cultural industry Working Group set up to look at issues around working and touring in the EU.
‘To support any businesses facing challenges with specific aspects of trading with the EU, we are operating export helplines, running webinars with policy experts and offering businesses support via our network of 300 international trade advisers. This is on top of the millions we have invested to expand the customs intermediaries sector.’