Odd thing about the whole furore over Stephen Fry referring to Jenny Beavan as being dressed as a bag lady. It's the assumption that the worst thing he did was insult Jenny Beaven. But that's not the problem at all. The thing that is problematic is that he thought a bag lady was a funny thing to compare somebody with.
Bag ladies are a description of homeless women who carry their belongings around with them in plastic bags. I used to walk past one in Marylebone Churchyard in the mornings in the 1980s. She use to sleep in the church porch - at risk from cold, hunger, passers-by, thugs and male homeless people. She was my age, and she's quite likely dead now. They are frequently people with mental health issues. All of which makes Stephen Fry's use of them for a "joke" wholly unsuitable. They are victims of our society, quite often. And not to be used as a method of joking with one's celebrity chums.
Maybe in Stephen Fry's world, it is only costume designers' feelings that matter. I realise that if you are living on the street, the views of a former comedian are unlikely to matter much. But the disparagement in his usage of the term is not going to help his viewers to see them as human beings.
The sensible thing to do in these circumstances is probably to apologize, while making a suitable donation maybe to a charity working with homeless people. Then everyone gets on with their lives.
For a more sensitive, touching view of these victims of our society I suggest the wonderful song "One Better Day". I realise that in our more fastidious times, the name of the group is itself problematic. But they were famous in the 80s. Life was different then. Except for bag ladies.
Further down, a photo booth,
a million plastic bags
And an old woman filling out a million baggage tags
But when she gets thrown out, three bags at a time She spies the old chap in the road to share her bags with
She has bags of time.