Today’s the day that most British judges go bare-headed into court.All save the criminal court judges will appear sans wigs, as the style changes introduced some months ago go into effect.
Part of the change includes new, modernized judicial robes designed by British fashion designer Betty Jackson. Her take on the traditional involves scrapping the wing collars, bands and voluminous robes for more streamlined robes — with pockets, no less — a Nehru collar, and coloured strips of cloth on the breast reminiscent of bands, the colour — gold, red or lilac — indicating place in the hierarchy.
There is some dispute as to how well the changes were received by the bench. And also as to what the fashion critics think of the new outfits. More than a few of the latter were scathing (a professional requirement, I should have thought), frequently comparing them to costumes on Star Trek. For example, Hadley Freeman, deputy fashion editor of The Guardian, said this of the costume modelled by Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, back in May when the new designs were set:
…the slicks of colour down the front and around the cuffs, [make] each judge look like a cutprice Cruella de Vil.
Look at this poor man: instead of appearing imperious, the lord chief justice, Lord Phillips, now just looks like the man who sells you tickets for the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.
And judging from his expression, he knows it.