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.