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(Patricia) Field project

So where would be an appropriate window for Field’s dramatic take on glitzy fashion? Zara, perhaps? Or Topshop? Think again, it’s M&S for Ms Field, in what has to be one of the more random celebrity/high street marriages in recent years.

Having seen it first hand at M&S’ Marble Arch flagship yesterday, the collection looks fantastic and has been manufactured with high production values. Sure, the M&S design team has lent a commercial acumen to each style while its merchandisers have ensured that for every sequin drenched jumpsuit and strapless zig-zag patterned mini-dress there are a handful of more volume-led styles, from a high-waisted cigarette trouser and beaded shift dress, to a frill collared silk blouse and fitted trench coat.

But the essence of Field’s eccentric style, which nods to trends without slavishly following them, is still visible and though diluted still informs the collection, particularly when it comes to dresses.

Price points too have been kept in check, ranging from around 35 to 125. But the question many fashion critics have been asking themselves is what M&S hopes to achieve from this tie-up. The retailer certainly drew a crowd to its London flagship for yesterday’s launch but creating the appropriate in-store drama for the line across a number of stores will be a challenge for M&S.

A fortnight ago I visited Newcastle where I was impressed to find an exceptionally strong M&S full of great signage and contemporary design elements. Yet even here the icing-on-the-cake Autograph collections felt lost in the swell of mainstream basic casualwear.

It was a Tuesday, and 65% of the customers in-store were shuffling members of the free bus-pass brigade. Now I know M&S has no intention of courting these elderly shoppers with Patricia Field’s Studio 54 threads, but the collaboration is a world away from the retailer’s core customer. As a headline-grabbing exercise alone the collection has already done its work. And to be honest, I’m a fan.

Readers' comments (2)

  • All this chasing of their tails by the big retailers.....going to make them dizzy and fall over soon.

    The Long Tail by Chris Anderson is an indicator of the retail scene over the next decade. Asos are leading the way. Ask Barry of The Laden Showroom.

    I'm sure the M + S range is lovely but don't know if it will be in our local branch....sandwiched between the ''off trend'' ready meals and flattering, wash 'n' wear outfits for the 50+ Twiggy wannabees.

    I am not looking forward to the downturn from a business anfd financial viewpoint BUT, if it cleans out a lot of this stuff so releasing some space for new people to try out a new, original retail will be an interesting time.

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  • Anonymous

    I concur with the sentiments of your blog Khabi but as someone approaching the" free bus pass age" myself I can't help feeling your comments on that group are slightly disrespectful.
    A lot of those people are our customers many are increasingly fashion savvy and active and they may well be the only people in the next few years who will have enough disposable income to support retailers through what looks like being a particulary tough period so let's show those of mature years a bit of respect.

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