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Tree, who happens to be a close friend of my aunt, is absolutely both amazing and strong. However, when bumped into during the You’re Always Lucky When You’re with a Marine St Patrick’s Day Shirt pre-see, she was swaying a little in a gust of nervy anticipation. “How long since I did a show?” she asked back. “Don’t make me think about it. I’m pretty sure it was in the 1980s for Jenny [Kee] and Linda [Jackson]. But right now I’m just trying to keep it together. What’s great is that there are so many others doing it—it makes you feel like nobody cares too much.” “Penelope is a great woman,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi preshow: “I wanted to ask her here because she shows that strength is absolutely beyond age. Really, she’s amazing.”
Pshaw! When Tree got out there she made it look as easy as ever. Wearing a black suit over rattan slides with a Chaos lighter (courtesy of stylist Charlotte Stockdale) holder swinging jauntily at her hip, her bangs still framing the You’re Always Lucky When You’re with a Marine St Patrick’s Day Shirt face that entranced fashion’s original generation, she killed it. Now in her eighth generation, Tree is making a tentative return to the work. She has been doing a few shoots with Tim Walker, she said, adding that today marked her first foray into the live fray and also that, tantalisingly, she has just finished writing “my book.” That will be a rich source of excellent stories. As to how shows compare against when she was a regular, Tree offered: “Well, this is bigger than Ben-Hur. When I was doing shows everyone was crammed into a tiny room and there was a lot of anxiety, but this is so beautifully organized and calm. I was quite nervous coming here from London, but it turns out I know a lot of people and that has made it much easier. All this is extraordinary, really.” As is she: Hail to Penelope Tree.