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Amie Mulderrig takes her seat with the leading fashionistas at London Fashion Weekend
Somerset House was a hive of activity over the weekend as fashion editors, celebrities and fashionistas alike descended for the finale of London Fashion Week, London Fashion Weekend.
On Saturday morning I found myself sat among the audience for Marks and Spencer’s exclusive standalone show of key looks from its autumn collection, as well as an exclusive preview of its winter wardrobe.
M&S is a national institution, a brand men and women alike have, for years, held close to their heart. It had the reputation of the faithful friend – always there when needed, the one-stop shop, and for the most part, the supplier of quality, staple items.
But you’d be forgiven for thinking that in recent years M&S has lost its way.
Far too much attention has been paid to trends, with style and substance coming secondary to fashion.
This was reflected in reported declining sales, with shoppers turning away in their droves.
And then there’s the adverts. In a desperate bid to appear hip and cool, we’ve had X Factor contestants, and Danni Minogue and Gary Barlow appearing on our screens in twee campfire/school races/sing-a-long settings.
Image appears to have overshadowed product. I, for one, had been left feeling that the brand has lost touch with what women want to wear. It had all become, well, mumsy.
Thank god then, for the installation of M&S style director Belinda Earl, the woman who put the designer into Debenhams, turned around Jaeger and has masterminded the autumn/winter collection. Quality and style is back with a bang.
So much so that Saturday was a feast for the eyes.
Sashaying down the white catwalk, models were dressed in an array of gorgeous belted day dresses, cosy knits, biker jackets, lashings of lace and leather, animal print, graphic lines, Chanel-esque tweeds, tartans and 1940s skirt suits.
And the winter coats, oh the winter coats.
The looks? There’s Urban Folklore which focuses on layering globally inspired patterns: think clashing prints, faux fur and bold printed scarves.
Release your inner rebel with London Calling: bold graphic colours and urban prints, leather, leather and more leather, black, red, tartan and leopard print.
Behave like a lady with ‘40s Chic, a look which combines tweed and silk materials, fitted pencil skirts, fluted, fitted jackets – in substantial material.
Simply Monochrome: black and white statement pieces, and Modern Elegance: which featured lots and lots of lace and a stunning sequined dress.
And that was just for the women.
Menswear was all about the sharp tailoring. There were statement pinstripes, a bit of a 1960s – Michael Caine circa Alfie vibe and Harris tweed aplenty.
This was a show where the clothes were chic, stylish and most importantly substantial.
The adverts may still be cheesy, but M&S has returned to what it’s synonymous with – quality goods.
I’ve already picked out what I’ll be purchasing – now to navigate the nightmare layout of their stores..