I have seen the future, and it is so decidedly laid-back, we won’t know whether we’re off to the office, out for a party, going for a jog or simply staying put in bed.
Unveiled to the Press in a huge converted church on Marylebone Road in London last week, Marks & Spencer’s autumn/winter 2016 fashion collections promised a world in which the lines between work and home, day and night, leisure and pleasure, all merge, intertwine and blend delightfully together.
It’s the way we live now, doing business at breakfast, tapping on laptops in bedrooms, meeting friends for brunch, listening to podcasts as we exercise. We need a wardrobe that reflects our modern life. Step forward The Big Easy, a collection of relaxed but luxurious separates with loose and languid silhouettes in crisp and textured whites, clean black, dappled prints and soft butterscotch leather.
Meanwhile, there are technical developments in lingerie to help make life that little bit easier, more comfortable and more flattering. Such as knickers with Flexifit, giving 360-degree stretch that moulds to the body. And “Youthful Lift” control pants with a bottom-lifting effect.
M&S will also be reprising its armwear collection of black lacy shrug-style tops that fasten over your bra so sleeveless tops and dresses can be worn without fear of bingo wings on display.
But the big news is that we won’t have to wait another three months to buy some of next season’s looks because M&S has announced that it is adopting a “see now, buy now” strategy. This means it has released The Big Easy already, as a pre-season collection of womenswear to introduce its main autumn/winter ranges, which will launch as usual, actually in the autumn.
As the first major High Street retailer to transcend traditional fashion seasons in this way, M&S is following a “season-scrapping” trend set by Burberry, which announced before London Fashion Week that it would no longer be showing on the catwalk specific autumn and summer collections that the customer could not then buy for six months. Instead it will show twice a year, presenting “seasonless” collections, menswear and womenswear together, available to buy immediately.
Social media is behind these moves. M&S says it wants to place the customer “at the heart of everything we do”, adding that it was enabling shoppers to buy a collection as it is previewed to media, thereby “aligning the excitement of a media event with the in-store experience”.
M&S is clearly wanting to make the most of the generally positive media that accompanies its new range launches, and there is also a simultaneous press/public launch of Archive by Alexa, the collection “curated” by Alexa Chung, inspired by her visits to the M&S Company Archive at Leeds. The idea behind The Big Easy is that the pieces work as standalone looks in the summer, and layer up to flow into the main autumn/winter ranges. Customers will still have to wait to see these other collections, named Metropolis (modern layers and tonality with subtle sports detailing), Romantic Explorer (moody blooms and khaki hues, relaxed and tactile), Eccentrics (jacquards, jewels and eclectic print), and Into the Night (velvet and dramatic lace with liquid shine).
There’s an easy luxe layered look too for menswear, mixing sleek knits with joggers and relaxed tailoring.
My favourite pieces in autumn’s womenswear are a draped black dress in the Best of British collection, £129, and the M&S Collection grey net lace grey skirt featured here, at £39.50. I love it. But I guess I’ll just have to wait for October.