Sitting down with our new PR agency the other day, the conversation turned to the red carpet and celebrities. Whenever anyone mentions a red-carpet dress, I always secretly hope that a mischievous designer will send the latest soap star to a B movie opening wearing a scarlet Axminster creation with foam underlay petticoat and gold stair rods for earrings. When you see some of those Oscar dresses, it's not such a bad idea.
Anyway, we began to discuss who we'd love to work with, and there were lots of fantastic ideas except mine. The main problem was that all my candidates are dead, or if not they are getting on a bit. This may be one of the reasons I don't get many dates. But seriously, I couldn't think of any modern celebrities in the same way I think of stars of yesteryear. To me, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, Ingrid Bergman and Brigitte Bardot have an other-worldly quality that sets them apart.
Of course, part of the problem now is that celebrity has become so devalued that nobodies become famous simply because of their stupidity, who they've slept with or because they'll do anything to be recognised. Coupled with the fact that celebrity coverage is now so ubiquitous, I bet more people could identify Jade Goody than half the MPs in the cabinet (and all the shadow cabinet). Celebrity coverage is nasty these days. It's obsessed with weight, relationship breakdowns, addictions and knicker (or no knicker) flashing.
But celebrity endorsement is so vital today that it has to be part of every label's brand strategy. A top star wearing your dress can change a brand's fortunes overnight.
Of course, there are stars that seem capable of rising above the crowd, and consequently we did manage to come up with a list. It included Lily Allen, Rachel Weisz, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola.
After the meeting I tried to figure out what it was about these women - past and present - that defines their star quality, and I came up with two common themes. Unfortunately, I've never met any of them, so I might be talking rubbish. However, that's never stopped me before.
First, they are strong, independent women who do what they do extremely well and plough their own furrows. And second, they have personalities, while not seeming to want to be personalities. They also possess integrity and dignity.
The whole point of this is that we are in the business of selling clothes, yet increasingly it seems our business is about the emperor's new clothes and we've got to understand that and work out our approach to it.
Our label is ultimately about strong, independent women who have real lives and real issues, but also want to project their personality and beauty - both inner and external - through their clothes. In fact, that might even be a mission statement. Now, how am I going to get hold of Rachel Weisz's number?
- Simon Beales is managing director of Brighton independent womenswear store Simultane and wholesale label Sarah Arnett.