Marks & Spencer launched its make or break fashion collections for spring 2015 in London, pinning its hopes on flashbacks to the Seventies and daringly 21st century peek-a-boo styles.
How the M&S core customer will respond to the racy Per Una Speziale sheer lace dress, reminiscent of one of Rihanna’s or Kim Kardashian;’s more revealing red carpet ensembles, can as yet only be guessed at, but the 70-strong design team, led by ex Jaeger boss Belinda Earl, has an almost impossibly fine line to tread between offering its customers trend-inspired, statement fashion and the sort of safe, wearable clothes that the more traditional shopper wishes to see.
Out go racks of comfy cardis and in come plenty new styles of jacket, following Earl’s assertion that the jacket will be the go-to hero piece for next year.
Spring 2015 is an important collection for the retail giant. Clothing sales had been sliding for more than three years until a ray of light suddenly shone in the form of a 1.3 per cent rise in womenswear in the first five months of the financial year. But then came a slump in September, blamed on the unseasonably warm weather.
Many customers will be pleased to note that M&S is still investing in its reputation for showcasing UK craftsmanship. The Best of British range has been broadened to cover lower price points, now offering many styles of Leicestershire made jersey dresses at £59.99, alongside the high quality tailoring in men and womenswear, much made in Yorkshire by Abraham Moon and Alfred Brown.
Meanwhile, in the womenswear collections launching next January for early spring, fashion shoppers can look forward to channelling Ali McGraw in Seventies’ classic weepie Love Story, in preppy suede midi skirts, while high summer will bring boho lace luxe looks.
The elegantly wearable, pared-down Autograph shirt dress will appeal to a wide audience, and looks far more expensive than its £49.50 price tag.
Fashion icon Twiggy arrived at the launch to show off her online collection for M&S. She told The Yorkshire Post: “My colour palette for spring is baby pink and oranges. And this I am passionately in love with,” she said, pulling out a biker-style jacket. “it’s baby blue suede ... To die for.”
Spring will also see some technical developments that will please all those who plan to over-indulge on M&S food in the festive season. Jessica Coonan, technical manager for womenswear, said that the no-peep double button feature that helps contain fuller busts would be extended through womenswear and was also being considered for use on men’s shirts, to conceal expalnding tummies. “We need two buttons. They might need three,” she said, adding that secret slimming “magic knicker” technology was also being extended into womenswear, especially dresses, for spring. Responding to the fast pace set by high street stores such as Zara, there will be new pieces in store every two weeks now, compared with every six weeks as previously.