Here are the reasons that we love the Queen of Shops:
Her success and clever ways – She’s a self-made business woman. In the 1990s, she converted Harvey Nichols from perceived frump house to a fabulous fashion fortress by way of jaw-dropping window displays and astute marketing. Today her company Yellow Door is one of the premiere branding specialists in the UK. At work when we are having a sh–ty day, we think, "What Would Portas Do?"
Her magnificent apparel – Imagining Mary and Melanie’s wardrobe must be the wet dream of many wannabe fashionistas. That old stereotype of lesbians having no fashion sense and only buying Gap Chinos and crocs is well and truly blown out of the water by this pair.
She’s a lady in control – She has managed to be very famous and "out" without allowing the media to take control of her sexuality. Her decision not to discuss it much has ensured that her relationship hasn’t become an issue of media fodder. As an expert in PR she has been wise in understanding the pitfalls of giving away too much of herself to the press. Perhaps still a stark reminder that society’s wheel of progress has not turned enough to move away from defining someone by one facet of difference.
She’s Here, She’s Queer, Get Over It – Although she is not a loud vocal advocate of all things gay or indeed waving any sort of rainbow flag (and this would be a crude addition to her outfits), this doesn’t mean that she isn’t proud of who she is. Portas is clearly proud of her relationship because she married her partner earlier this year and this cranks up the volume over any whispers that suggest her decision to be tight-lipped about her personal life is because she is ashamed of it.
A couple of months ago she said this in the Observer:
I couldn’t not be who I am. It’s the way I live my life. It’s not something I’ve wanted to hide. It’s who I am and I’m very happy with that. I’m married to a woman and I’m in love with a woman and I have a great family life. But I don’t want it to be the first thing that people think about.
She’s the third most famous Mary in Britain (after Scots and the Virgin) – Mary, Mary is quite contrary to the stereotypical picture of a lesbian held by the mainstream. The incredible popularity of series three of Queen of Shops has cemented her position as one of the biggest TV personalities in the UK. She appeals to everyone – four generations in our family watch her show every single week and are all bowled over by the wonder of Mary. She is a blatant statement to the mainstream, a strong shining example showing that anyone can be gay.
"Great LezBritain" authors Sarah, a Londoner, and Lee, a Glaswegian, met in a gay discotheque one bleak mid winter, eight years ago and have been shacked up together ever since. When not watching Tipping The Velvet, they find time to write, run a PR company, DJ at their own club nights and love a bit of jam on toast. Follow them on Twitter at greatlezbritain.