Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Posted by Melanie Rickey, Fashion Editor at Large

I’ve been pretty involved with the Mary Portas brand at House of Fraser since its inception in February 2011. After all, I am married to the woman and when it comes to all things fashion, I admit, I like to be the one in charge. I’ve cooked up fashion cocktails, imagined fantasy advertising campaigns with Steven Meisel, Susie Bick and Christy Turlington, sat through dozens of meetings with the grown-up women the collection is aimed at, and its designer and buyers, listening to their needs and desires, and experienced a fast-track learning curve on how to get products from idea to reality to shop-floor in a matter of months.

Neon tee £80 and metallic skirt £199

There have been times when the sheer logistics of getting Product A shipped to destination B and on the shop floor by Time X at Price Y has boggled my mind, and blank faced confusion when the retail lingo used has gone over my head. Now though, I get it, and in gaining this understanding I’ve realised I don’t actually need to get it – not intimately. I’m not doing an A-Level in logistics and options. My thing is the ideas, the fashion, the very important fashion pieces, the style essentials and the seasonal trends they are representing. Basically, the fun stuff.

PJ trousers £99  and dress coat £150

Every week, Bethan and I sit down with the super stylish and knowledgable House of Fraser team- Jakki, the designer and Alex and Jennifer, the buyers. We all discuss what we're thinking and look at colours, sketches and samples. There's always plenty of debate and I love that we all come at it from a different angle but eventually we get to what you see in these lookbook images- all with Mary's golden seal of approval of course!

Pink skinnies £80 and Tatty Devine Melon necklace
What I’ve learned is that seasonal fashion trends can be spun to any age group; the same trend a 20 something will love, will also be adored by the 40 something woman, she’ll just wear it in another way, and don’t fricking well tell her otherwise.

Mary’s collection is shamelessly about clothes most women can wear for her daily and social life. It combines boldness, drama, sexiness, fun, and no-nonsense chic, but more than anything the range is figure flattering. We want a woman to be able to go to the shop and be dressed by a stylist and walk out dressed head to toe in a new outfit feeling a million bucks for less that £300 quid. We don’t want her to feel crappy – then we would have failed. That’s all really. 

Hyperfloral print dress £160
Animal blouse £95
For Spring, which you are seeing unfurl in some of our lush lookbook images and which is really happening outside both weather-wise and in the shops, we built on the success of the last collection, taking the things that really worked and improving them by offering more ways to play with it. OK, so Steven Meisel and Christy were busy that day, but still. 

Floral jersey top £65
I’ve made sure most of the key trends are incorporated, but not in an in-your-face way. We have neon, florals, digital prints, rich colour, pastels, tapered leg jeans, high waist jeans, silky pyjama style trousers, amazing print dresses and trousers and nipped and cropped jackets. Not forgetting the perfect leather jacket and cool sporty tanks. You know the stuff most of us wear day in and day out. 

Leather biker £300
What do you think of it? I’ll sign off now as I’ve written this on the train to Manchester where Mary’s largest store to date is opening at House of Fraser tonight with a fancy schmancy party. I’m looking forward to meeting people I’ve been communing with on Twitter for ages.

We've linked to most of the products currently available- look out for the rest in the coming weeks and months at the Mary/ House of Fraser website

The floral borders are from a print by Peter Bailey, available in scarf form here
Photography by Jonny Storey
Model- Anna Marie Cseh

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