Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

In which Marks & Spencer held its A/W show and I sat in, let’s face it, the worst place ever

Not to come over all white whine on you, but fashion shows are a tricky business. Arrive too early and you become the social pariah, waiting at the entrance for other people to arrive; too late, and you’ve missed all …

Thu, Sep 13, 2012, 07:30


Not to come over all white whine on you, but fashion shows are a tricky business. Arrive too early and you become the social pariah, waiting at the entrance for other people to arrive; too late, and you’ve missed all but the vegetarian canapé options and all of the best gossip has already been shared. And that’s before you’ve even got a chance to spill pink sparkling wine on someone or, and here’s the toughest part, chosen your seat.

And boy, did I choose a terrible seat. The show was held upstairs in Marks & Spencer‘s Grafton Street rooftop restaurant (which, as an aside, I love; there are always old people there asking for “just a biscuit, a plain biscuit” with their tea, and the pancakes with berries and crème fraiche are so amazing), which is in a kind of interesting series of circles – meaning that the models had to do a figure of eight type of job to do the whole circuit and ensure everyone got a good look.

Though we got close (see above!), lights and cameramen and fast movement (paired with my inability to work my camera) meant I didn’t get too many great shots. But look, this isn’t about my technical skills (or lack thereof), it’s about the clothes. So I’ve prepared a handy digest.

I loved . . .

This Victoria Beckham-influenced military dress with double-wrap belt. Gorgeous, and those side panels are seriously slimming.

This printed pencil skirt. Funny enough, the print was also on a dress which I didn’t quite like as much – but this is a real winner.

Yomiko as a sexy secretary with this adorable box bag and skirt’n'sweater combo. Lovely.

This gorgeous Peter Pan collar dress – so, so cute, and the blush colour is even nicer in person.

52-year-old model Olivia Treacy, who I (tongue in cheek) referred to as an “auld one” on the Twitter. It’s nice to see M&S embracing diversity as much in their events as they do in their ad campaigns.

Courtney Smith’s fab necklace . . . from (ssh) Zara.

This great kimono dress. These shapes – basically, T-shirt dresses – are so versatile and look great belted or over jeans with a pair of ballet pumps.


This great coat with faux fur detailing on the lovely Angelica. It’s slick, and I love the deep neckline.

L’Or’s sexy secretary. This tweed suited look with the lush faux fur screamed opulence.

Then, of course, there are the things I didn’t love . . .

The Rosie Huntington-Whiteley underwear styled with autumnal checked shawls. As I said on the Twitter, it was like Peig meets Victoria’s Secret.

I mean, there was something a bit familiar about the whole blanket’n'Ugg slippers combo, but that’s the kind of garb I’d be wearing with my PJs, not with my matching silk undies.

The knit segment felt very retro – a bit like a Wham! video, or a United Colors of Benetton ad from 1995.

And then – and I know I’m super picky here – I always think that if you’re going to trumpet diversity, do it 100%. Have young, old and all that’s in between; have thin, fat and all of those shades of normality we grapple with every day. Don’t throw in one 51-year-old model and expect to be told you’re making a difference. I love that M&S is trying to make the faces of fashion more diverse, but diversity, by definition, is not making an exception of an older woman. It’s giving such a great variety that nothing, and nobody, stands out more than anyone else.

In all, there was something for everyone – and M&S’s prices have been really solid for the past few seasons, which is great to see. I’ll definitely be going in and checking out some bits and pieces: that Peter Pan collared dress, for one; that coat with the faux fur segment; and maybe even some of Rosie’s smalls, although I won’t be pairing them with my cold-weather blankie.

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