Judges are to receive new robes designed by a top-name high-street fashion designer.
The judges’ new robe collection, created in consultation with fashion designer Betty Jackson CBE, hit the catwalk today (12 May) at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The new civil gowns, that will be worn from 1 October, are mainly black with two stripes of colour on the breast of the robe.
The colours on the court dress change with seniority. For the division heads and Court of Appeal judges the flash of colour will be gold, while red is the shade of choice for the High Court judiciary.
The judicial office said in a statement that the new dress will demand a substantial one-off payment from the taxpayer, though it will be reflected in the dress allowances given to judges.
“Whilst the one-off cost of supplying the new civil robe to judges is estimated at about £450,000 it is anticipated that annual savings in the region of £200,000 will thereafter be made,” the statement read.
The robes fit with Lancashire-born Jackson’s own design-style, which had been dubbed by one leading fashion critic as “classic, unstructured and fluid”, as evidenced in her high street collections for Marks & Spencers and Debenhams.
Other fashion journalists commented that Jackson has “never been one to follow trends”, which is just as well as the judiciary’s design committee – drawn from judges from the circuits to appellant court – took the decision to do away with wigs, wing collars and bands in civil hearings.
In the criminal courts, High Court judges will no longer have the choice of a summer or winter robe as it was felt that the latter would suffice.