Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Anti-greige: a manifesto, of sorts


A few months ago, it was announced that Patricia Field would be designing a collection for Marks and Spencer. That collection opened, slightly oddly, in New York yesterday. It will include:

flirty, 1950’s-style, puffball dresses in scarlet polka-dot jacquard and rose-print taffeta, which will cost £75 and £99, and a turquoise, angel-sleeved, silk shift, based on the dress the actress wore in the “Baby Shower Scene” in the SATC film, which will also cost £75.

A black, sequined catsuit, at £99, and a skin-tight, black and white striped military jacket, £75, worn with gold leggings, were in the style of the sex-mad character of Samantha, played by Kim Cattrall.

Ms Kate Bostock, the executive director of all clothing at Marks & Spencer, watched the show from a ringside seat. She described the Patricia Field collection, developed with co-designer, David Dalrymple, as one of the most adventurous projects in the British high street chain’s history.

Field was at the show

. . . wearing a short blue Lurex mini-dress from her M&S collection, £60, and black, platform Dior stilettos which cost about ten times as much.

“If I can wear the clothes, anybody can,” she said. “Fashion is about enjoying clothes and having fun; it’s not about age.”


I slightly fear that the mad old bag look is upon us. It's such a tricky call, to go with the beige classics and die slowly inside, or follow the mutton route and be laughed at behind your back. I am starting to think that a touch of vulgarity, or blatant sex appeal, might be the hot chilli needed to spice up an outfit when you hit 50 (and Field is in her 60s, I believe)

On the other hand, some of the pieces look like 1980s market stall revival.

12 comments:

Wendy said...

The photograph of Patricia Field showing her knees and upper arms in a ridiculous mini with tiny shoulder straps is a reminder to all of us of a certain age that we look downright ugly dressed as lamb. Compare this woman with Helen Mirren in her arm-concealing Oscar dress! One exudes classy class, the other looks like an ageing tart.

Wendy said...

Ooops, typo. Helen Mirren exudes SEXY class.

greying pixie said...

No, please, Linda, there IS a third way!

I knew this collection was going to be a disaster when you first warned us about it months ago. New York is the best place for it I think, or any drag queen boutique! This is not serious fashion, just a desperate badly timed gimmick from good old sad M&S.

phyllis said...

The 75+ grandmother of a friend of mine, who walked with a cane, loved to wear things like leopard print leggings. She dyed her hair that reddish pink you see on older ladies and she was a notorious flirt. She was really something to see at parties, and her joie de vivre was imporessive.

Susan said...

I agree with greying pixie, this has disaster written all over it.

I loved watching SATC, but apart from the occasional outfit worn by Miranda, I found the clothes laughable rather than wearable. Why does Kate Bostock think we will all be rushing out to buy this stuff?

Anonymous said...

I'm in agreemment with all the other comments - unwearable clothes that have had their time. Parhpas Kate Bostock thought she was doing a Kate Moss and Topshop ie sell clothes that are basically copies of what a style icon wears. However the difference here is that SATC has had its time and, like Susan says, a lot of the clothes were laughable especially Carrie's.

Arabella said...

The clothes I saw on The Patricia Field site earlier this year looked hideous to me. I was expecting witty mixes of vintage and modern but discovered lots of items suitable only for street-walking in warm climates in the dark.* Really, I thought the site had been hacked and tried again. Nope.
*No offense to street-walkers in warm climates on night shifts. I'm sure you're doing a grand job.

Geraldine said...

Proper mingin'!

materfamilias said...

Going the mutton route? We're already mutton, if we're over 50, whether dressed in beige or colours. Personally, I abhor the expression, which compares us with meat and says we're butcher-dressed to deceive a consumer by posing a lamb anytime we dress "inappropriately young." Dressing, desperately or foolishly, to try to appear young obviously has its hazards, but I hate that we women police each other, pointing fingers and warning "mutton alert."

Anastasia said...

I like to think that Diane von F├╝rstenberg walks the third way. I usually would love to wear her entire collection (if only I could afford it) and I can imagine wearing it when I'm fifty.
But it is very difficult, isn't it? There is a time and space for everthing, including the mini, yet saying goodbye to something forever can hurt. Usually I try to follow the rule "If I ask myself 'Can I still wear (insert here: mini, shoulder straps, capri pants)' I probably already know the answer and don't want to hear it".
Then, detach.

fran martini said...

I thought Pat Field was kind of daring and I admit a certain admiration for her defiance and individuality. On the other hand, I think Linda's right. M&S collection reeks of mad old bag. I didn't like SJP in SATC...OTT outfits and her scrawny physique was just repelling. Like Madonna, give that woman a bathrobe and a sandwich too (I borrowed that from an earlier post, but damn it's so apt).

Rollergirl said...

It is a hard call. But I too wonder if it was deemed 'fashionable' to look mutton-esque a la Donatella/Nancy Del'Olio et al, maybe our eye would get used to it and it would become accepted? (Can't believe Field got paid £5million for it though, let's bloody bell hope it sells!)