Wenda's Fashion Blog
Who doesn't love a blog about the latest fashion trends, tips and tricks? Well I do! So enjoy this collection of posts from my columns on ITV Wales and Wales Online and ones which you'll only find here.< Back to Blog home page
Mary Portas and House Of Fraser
Over the past few years, flame-haired Mary Portas has graced our screens on a personal crusade to help independent retailers and brands in Mary, Queen of Shops, and now she’s turning the tables around and going into retail herself for the first time in a collaboration with House of Fraser which is available both instore and on line.
The concept for the shop, called Mary & House of Fraser, which has recently opened in London at the department store's Oxford Street branch, is the culmination of more than three decades in the fashion trade for Portas, who started her career with a Saturday job in John Lewis, up to this year, when David Cameron engaged her as an adviser to resuscitate the British high street.
She has been working on the project for more than a year, and knows that her reputation is on the line. The idea itself is born out of frustration: Portas, 51, believes that, for women, the high street has become a ghetto for the very young and impossibly skinny, and she wants to redress the balance. She believes that once women hit 40 they become invisible, particularly in the fashion business.
'The fashion industry was putting out collections that were getting more and more youthful,' she says. 'Everything was based on trend and youth and "buy now, buy now". I just thought, "My God, if you don't have a designer income - and let's face it that's most people - where do you go?" It seemed that the middle ground was disappearing.'
The whole concept “a shop for women, not for girls”, aimed at the largely untapped market of the over-30′s, with every piece carefully selected by Mary herself. With the high street often lacking the appropriate, affordable clothing for women over 30 who still want to be fashionable, Mary decided to design a small range herself (on which her close friend Antonio Berardi helped a little!) and work closely with other brands she loves to create a capsule wardrobe, which should allow you to always get ready in 10 minutes.
Alongside the Mary Portas own clothing range, there’s collaborations with British brands like Radley for bags, Clarks for shoes, Charnos for hosiery, and then a selection of her favourite brands, which include Max Mara coats, Whistles and Bastyan. Then, there’s also a lifestyle section, where you’ll find a selection of cosmetic products from Green & Spring, but also illustrated items by young British artists (some just recent graduates), there’s beautiful Italian foods, a range of True Grace candles created especially for Mary, and much, much more. It smells nice, looks nice, sounds nice: the whole shop is an experience, and for a brief moment you forget you’re inside a department store.
As would be expected with anything Mary Portas does, the emphasis is on customer service. There’s a complimentary personal styling service, called Pret a Portas, and the 15-strong team was handpicked by Mary. There’s also a Moan Phone, where you can leave messages for Mary, to which she will personally respond.
Personally, I think it’s a great concept – affordable, beautifully selected basic and interchangeable pieces, and you’ll find everything from accessories to bags to day and evening outfits .
Mary Portas at House of Fraser Oxford Street is open now on the third floor. If you can’t make it to the shop, why not relax back and shop in the comfort of your own home. www.houseoffraser.co.uk/maryportas
MARY'S STYLE RULES
- Avoid dressing like a teenager
- Edit your trends
- Work with your proportions
- Keep it low maintenance
- Don’t buy rubbish
Happy Shopping !