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Now everyone wants a silk shirt to look as cool as TV's sexy sleuth

The Fall's Stella Gibson's blouses have rivalled the fame of Sarah Lund's Faroe Island jumpers

By Tracy McVeigh
The Observer: 8 June 2013

Sarah Lund's jumper became a fashion hit, but the Faroe Islands thick knit was what the troubled Scandinavian heroine of The Killing hid her sexuality behind.

Now the latest female TV detective to electrify our screens is also causing a stir in womenswear - yet this time she is not afraid to show her sexuality. In fact, she positively bristles with it.

Few of the critics praising Gillian Anderson's performance as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson in the BBC drama The Fall have failed to mention her silk blouse collection. An iconic part of the character, those shirts - silk, cleavage-enhancing, under a well-cut suit, and defining her as a professional woman not afraid of looking attractive - are set to see a rise in popularity ahead of tomorrow's final episode of the five-part thriller set in Belfast.

In one episode the blouse even gets in on the action when a button comes undone during a key press conference in front of the British press. In another scene, DSI Gibson wiping blood splatters from her silky blouse is enough to throw her boss over the edge, and he explodes into lustful confessions of his feelings for her.

A defining look for a TV detective is far from new for foreign drama: Columbo had his beige mac, Starsky his cardigan, Saga Noren her leather trousers in The Bridge. But for British dramas fictional cops cannot get away from the cheaper and often overworn suits favoured by their non-fictional contemporaries. Ken Stott as Edinburgh DI John Rebus brought a whole new rumple to the term rumpled suit, while poor Olivia Colman and David Tennant, playing DS Ellie Miller and DI Alex Hardy in Broadchurch, had to detect at the seaside clearly overheating in their manmade fibre shirt-and-suit ensembles.

So DSI Stella Gibson is a welcome example of smarter dressing for professional working detectives - both sexes might take note - and although not everyone is going to favour the heels she wears to every crime scene, demand for those silky blouses is on the rise. ASOS and French Connection have both reported a rise in sales of their silk shirts, while at the top end Jaeger is seeing the silk blouse among its bestsellers for summer.

Sundari Gabriel is head of buying at Jaeger and thoroughly approves of the trend: "An easy shirt is a perfectly elegant wardrobe solution and a version in the softest silk is every woman's new go-to piece.

"There seems to be a current mood for ladylike looks. That means that a silk shirt, while still a classic, feels very 'now'. Wear dressed down with jeans or vamp it up with subtle gold jewellery for work wear or evening. Just avoid the pearls for that Margaret Thatcher vibe."

It is perhaps no coincidence that Anderson has admitted there is a nod in her character to the late, great Jane Tennison of Prime Suspect. Both shows share a writer in Allan Cubitt, and both have a female lead with a smouldering on-screen presence. Also a good suit wearer, Helen Mirren as Tennison was more of a crisp cotton shirt underneath type. She would probably only get a cigarette burn in silk.

In The Fall, Gibson is more of an enigma, terrifyingly capable and verging on cold in abject contrast to her sexy look. Anderson has said it's the most sexy character she has ever played: "If she finds someone attractive, she has the balls to say, 'Hey, you know, come on,' which I like in a woman. That's a really, really cool thing. But I also like the fact there are consequences to that, which you see in the series. She's definitely my most sexually confident role. I've played a lot of tightly wound, dark, miserable, confused, suicidal women."

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