Betty Jackson, CBE (born 24 June 1949) is an English fashion designer based in London, England. She was born in Lancashire. In 2007, her achievement within British fashion was recognised with first a MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 1987 and later with a CBE for "services to the fashion industry." She is also known for designing many of the outrageous costumes worn by Edina and Patsy on the 1990s hit television comedy Absolutely Fabulous.
Betty Jackson was born in Bacup, Lancashire on 24 June 1949. Her father, Arthur Jackson, owned a shoe factory, and her mother, Phyllis Gertrude (Rains), shopped 'for the season' at Kendal Milne in Manchester. Her leg was amputated at the age of six as it failed to grow following a dislocation during her birth. A car accident caused further complications and she has walked with a stick ever since.
She was educated at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar School. She studied fashion at the Birmingham College of Art under Zandra Rhodes, and started her fashion career as a fashion illustrator during her senior year (1971) at college. She learned her trade in the later 1970s as a designer for the Quorum line of Ossie Clark.
She introduced Betty Jackson for Men collection, 1986, and opened her flagship shop in the Brompton Road, London, 1991. In 2000, she launched the Autograph collection for Marks & Spencer and now works on the Betty Jackson Black label for Debenhams.
As a member of an advisory panel to the British Fashion Council's Model Health Inquiry, Jackson has been involved in the 'size zero' debate. After the death in 2006 of two models suffering from eating disorders, media attention was drawn to the health and size of the girls. Jackson agreed to join the panel.
She has volunteered for Smart Works, a non-profit organisation which gives free clothes and advice about job interviews to women who are unemployed.
In 1981, she met her husband David Cohen, and they set up their company, Betty Jackson Ltd. They have worked together ever since. David is from an Egyptian Jewish family that moved to France. They have two children. Her daughter, Pascale, works for a jewellery designer in New York and her son, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, is an actor.
- Woman Magazine Separates Designer of the Year award, London, 1981, 1983;
- Cotton Institute Cotton Designer of the Year award, 1983;
- Bath Museum of Costume Dress of the Year award, 1984;
- British Designer of the Year award, 1985;
- Harvey Nichols award, 1985;
- International Linen Council Fil d'Or award, 1985, 1989; Viyella award, 1987;
- MBE, 1987;
- Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Art, London, 1989
- Fellow, Birmingham Polytechnic, 1989;
- Honorary Fellow, University of Central Lancashire, 1992
- Designer of the Year, 1999
- CBE, 2007
- Honorary Doctor, University of Huddersfield, 2011
- Honorary Doctorate, Norwich University of the Arts, 2017
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