Emma Willis’s stylish shirts are wondrously luxurious proof that tailoring skills flourish – not just on Savile Row – and her eclectic following (from classic gents to Dermot O’Leary, President Obama and Adam Ant) demonstrates how a sublimely crafted item appeals across age groups. She has plenty of female fans, too, although Kate Moss apparently found her knee-high merino socks a bit pricey. Anyway, I don’t know why I felt remotely sceptical when I heard about her shirts-for-soldiers initiative. After all, way back in 1945, some perceptive soul working for the British Red Cross understood that taking a consignment of red lipsticks into Bergen-Belsen could help restore the self-esteem of the female camp survivors in small significant ways that no amount of more practical help would.
For a while now, Willis has been visiting Headley Court, the rehabilitation centre for injured service men, to make them a complimentary bespoke shirt, and more recently, carved walking sticks. At the fund-raiser she held at Ronnie Scott’s on Monday, two soldiers with missing limbs explained how the simple act of being fitted for beautiful clothes had helped cheered them up. The healing process works in mysterious ways. It just shows, to mangle Oscar Wilde, that fashion can be a trivial past-time with a serious impact.