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NOW CLOSED Tell House of Fraser what you think about the Mary Portas Collection and win a personal shopper session and £500 to spend at House of Fraser

(134 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-May-12 10:09:04

We've been asked by House of Fraser to find out what you think of the Mary Portas Collection

Here's what Mary says about the Collection: "Just follow the Pret-a-Portas cocktail = one part simple chic, one part edge, and decorate!"

What House of Fraser would like you to do is take a look at the Collection online here or visit your nearest House of Fraser* to check it out in real life, and maybe try some items on. Then they'd like you to come back to this thread and answer these questions:

~ What's your favourite piece in the Collection? Do you have more than one? Was there anything in the Collection that you were immediately drawn to? If so, was it the colour, pattern, style or something else that grabbed your attention?

~ What do you think is the most appealing thing about the Collection? What would you like to see in Mary's next Collection? Would you like to see her take on a different style all together? Or would you like to see something similar but with a few key additions? If so, what would those additions be?

The team at House of Fraser and Mary (!) will read all of the comments submitted on this thread and the MNer whose feedback they find the most interesting will win a styling session with a personal shopper and £500 to spend at their nearest House of Fraser. Please see Terms and Conditions here.

Thanks
MNHQ

*Mary Portas is available at House of Fraser Oxford Street, Westfield, Manchester, Glasgow and Guildford

heliumballoon Wed 23-May-12 23:42:45

Let me get the important bit out of the way first. I take challenges like this seriously. I legged it specially to the Mary concession at House of Fraser Oxford Street for this thread, spent money there that I wouldn’t otherwise have spent and a lovely chic shop assistant called Connie admired my baby smile. A winning situation all round.

My favourite piece was the seriously cute Tatty Devine foxy brooch (duly purchased and admired). I was drawn to the jeans- if someone can crack the “flattering not too skinny jean for the muffin topped” for under £100, then they will be a squillionaire. This Siren dress is lush– high quality heavy jersey (often hard to find on the high street), unusual neckline and a decent cut (but so it should be for £150). And some fab tights by the escalators on the way out.

But it could have been so much better.

One of the problems is that our expectations are sky high. You've clearly identified a gap in the market, we remember when you came and chatted to us before on MN (<waves>), we feel a certain warmth towards the brand and an engagement with it through the Channel 4 programmes. You’re tapping into really important things, like flattering cuts, good staff, style advice, avoiding dressing like a teenager- all the things the Style and Beauty board on MN are full of. Obviously you can’t please everyone but it’s clear to even the most casual observer why this stuff ain’t flying off the shelf.

The immediate impression when you walk in the store is of some truly awful zany polyester tunics. Some riffling through the rails reveals a surprising amount of stuff which has basically zero hanger appeal and someone needs to be quite brave and imaginative to try it on (No Brainer dress and Ray batwing dress, I’m talking about you). We’re not helped as the manikins are all clustered together by the entrance and there are not photos of clothes on models as one browses. So you’re relying on getting people into that changing room, and for that your staff need to be a little tiny bit more sales-minded- not pushy, just if someone a bit dopey like me is spending a loooooot time gazing at an item and trying to decide whether to try it on, go over and spark up a conversation about the item. I was a bit surprised this didn’t happen TBH. Maybe I look a bit poor or summat. Or like I’m only there for a Mumsnet thread.

The other immediate thing which jumps out is your pricing. £65 for a thin neon T-shirt. £120 for a silver coloured wallet (not leather). £150 for a black work dress. Woah there! There’s a recession on! Even the presence of quite a few 50% off swing tickets doesn’t really help, I’m afraid it just makes the rest of the collection look over-priced.

Then I wandered round the corner to the mishmash section of cushiony-bubble bath-greeting cards-scented candles lifestyle stuff. All vair nice but was surprised this took up so much room. The clothes, after all, are what we have trekked to the top floor of HoF to see, not to buy a notebook, however lovely. You could use some of that space instead to display clothes in a way which will help those of us without imagination eg. showing the same garment dressed in different ways. (This helps those of us looking for price-per-wear for the more expensive pieces). You could show us lots of different ways to wear your scarves. You could show us some more whole outfits, for example, you could make up a whole Made in Britain outfit. You could even spread the clothing collection out a little more- some of your clothing rails are a tiny bit crowded, and this doesn’t give a luxe look. Oh, and why is the sale rail hidden round the corner? Everyone loves a good sale rail.

You probably want some feedback from the older end of your target market, so I duly prodded my MIL (a seriously cool 68, usually found in Whistles, Cos and Zara, for example) into paying a visit. (She had already been several times before, she loves the concept and last season snapped up your “fantastically comfortable” leopard shoe-boots and “bloody brilliant” armery). She totally gets the Made in Britain concept (and remembers the 1960s M&S campaign of the same). MIL says that her generation is the Mary Quant and Biba generation but – and I quote- “as we get older we need things which are a leetle less short and a leetle more forgiving... without going straight to Country Casuals”. This time, her foray was less successful. She complained that she found things to be still too short and too tight and the cut “not quite right”. For example, she tried on the batwing dress (I love my MIL) but found it too short. She also loved the silver leather skirt- but it was shelved as she “lacks an occasion on which to wear it”- and the Radley bags like this one (“great colours” but feels she has too many bags already). She’ll definitely be back next season to see what you have on offer, as will I.

We agreed that Mary’s next Collection should look to quality, classic things with a twist, and more use of luxe fabrics like cashmeres, cotton and silk. Channel more Isabella Oliver and less Wallis; more neutrals and less neon and “painkiller pink” confused; more Audrey Hepburn and less Pat Butcher. (Sorry, sorry, but it’s true). Change the proportions in your Pret-a-Portas cocktail, adding an extra measure of simple chic and toning down the edge slightly. Lose the naff shit like the Tarot card reader advert on the till. Oh, and sort out your website- it’s truly badly designed and keeps throwing you out of the Mary store, while on an iPhone it’s even harder to navigate.

But whatever you do, don’t throw in the towel. There’s mileage in this concept yet. And I love love love my Fox brooch.

zipzap Fri 25-May-12 01:14:39

I don't live near a HoF store with a Mary collection so have just looked at the website...

Soooo offputting - sorry. The page linked to from the MN OP was just such a mess of random boxes and images, no structure, not even any clothes to be seen without scrolling.

The left hand navigation had no discernible order and only some of the items on it had an image or text on the page - which if you had scrolled down to try to make sense of it, you could have ended up missing things as there are so many different things on there, that without having to do a complicated double checking process it would have been easy to assume that everything was on there. And from the comments already on here, it seems that the Armery is one of the unique things that the Mary P collection can offer that people would like - but as it is a new concept to most people it is one of the things that would have really benefitted from having an explanation of it stuck on the Mary P landing page.

Looking at the clothes I didn't see anything that would suit me - unfortunately thanks to a couple of kids, a dodgy thyroid and an over fondness for chocolate, I am now a size 20 instead of the size 8 I used to be a few hundred years ago. And everything in the collection seemed to be designed for slim people... If you are aiming at slightly older women then please throw some larger sizes in for those of us unlucky enough to have trouble staying as slim as we were when young!

There were some nice looking classic basics but there were also a lot of gaudy patterns that didn't look very nice (sorry) and then there were things that looked like they were trying to be modern classics (and certainly charging as if they were) but actually looked like they would date quite quickly.

I've loved watching all the mary portas shopping shows on the tv but somehow this collection doesn't seem to have captured her essence of style very well.

And for someone who is supposed to be all about the marketing and presentation of things - how on earth did you let that website get out with your name on it? If this website was a shop with your name on it you would be the one calling in somebody to give it a good makeover, not be the one doing the sorting everything out! Gives a really bad feeling - like I've been cheated, because I expect the same high qualities on line from mary portas as I do from watching her make over shops on TV. So before I've even found the clothes to look at I'm already in a negative frame of mind thinking - well - if she has messed up the website (or let others mess it up despite having her name on it) then how much does she really know or understand like she is supposed to, are these really going to be as good as they are supposed to be... and judging by what I've seen, I'd say probably not sad

Ramblings Fri 25-May-12 15:50:02

What's your favourite piece in the Collection?
- I loved the simple style but amazing print on the Anemone Dress, it caught my eye instantly and then I was distracted by thinking how I could style it. I decided on the La peep court shoes and the Melon Cantelupe Necklace to really set it off!

Do you have more than one?
-I also loved the bright green oversize tee, fab colour and really great for summer.

Was there anything in the Collection that you were immediately drawn to?
-The Anemone Dress (as described above)

If so, was it the colour, pattern, style or something else that grabbed your attention?
-The patterned material

What do you think is the most appealing thing about the Collection?
- The wide range of materials, prints and shapes. It also works for varying age ranges which is hard to acheive

What would you like to see in Mary's next Collection?
-More of the same plus some classic shapes and colours to mix and match and make the feature items more useable across your wardrobe.

Would you like to see her take on a different style all together?
No, I think she should stick to this format as it works, maybe add a few more basic items

Or would you like to see something similar but with a few key additions? If so, what would those additions be?
- I think a range of stylish flat shoes (with embellishments and varying colours) would be a welcome addition

cherryjellow Tue 29-May-12 12:08:05

Okie dokie, here I go with what I think smile

I really loved the mono flower print edge, it really summed up the chic edge and decorate idea. Its really beautiful, not to over bearing with design but still has colour, empty space and style.
I also loved the sheer spot tights - I love spots! Can't get enough of them!
The slub box jersy tee top in blue is another favorite. You can never have enough simple designs that can be accessorized plus the blue is very eye catching!

I like that the collection is like marmite. For me there are things I love and things well.... I wouldn't buy :D
So for the next collection I would love to see some different pillows.... maybe not with a dog for instance, maybe something more fun. The materials and style used is lovely though... just a bit unsure on the dog theme. Naomi Ryder plates etc...I'm not so sure about so complete style change would be lovely to see. I like the style on lots of things, but on the two above I would go for a style change.
The shoes are really classy, but as someone quite tall, a few more flat designs in the current style would be great!

What's your favourite piece in the Collection?
I really like the Aurora dress. I am considering ordering it.

Do you have more than one?
The tan leather biker jacket is gorgeous.

Was there anything in the Collection that you were immediately drawn to?
Dresses. I find dresses easy to wear and thought this particular range had some crackers. I liked the Shop your Shape function and found some items I wouldn’t have ordinarily have considered.

What do you think is the most appealing thing about the Collection?
The fitted dresses.

What would you like to see in Mary's next Collection?
More classic styles and cuts.

Would you like to see her take on a different style all together?
It’s hard to find chic basics and an essentials-type of range would be great.

moonbells Thu 31-May-12 14:22:25

I'm a taller and larger lass with spring colouring and very narrow shoulders, and so I try and pick clothes that complement the colours and try and make me look smaller while not falling off my shoulders! So...

~ What's your favourite piece in the Collection? Do you have more than one? Was there anything in the Collection that you were immediately drawn to? If so, was it the colour, pattern, style or something else that grabbed your attention?

I loved the Rutzou Scribble print maxi skirt but the website has it only for up to size 14. I'd have bought that... such a lovely colour and pattern.

~ What do you think is the most appealing thing about the Collection? What would you like to see in Mary's next Collection? Would you like to see her take on a different style all together? Or would you like to see something similar but with a few key additions? If so, what would those additions be?

There are some lovely prints. But it needs more stuff to suit pear-shaped size 18s! (The fan dresses just shouted Victoria Beckham at me) Can we have some retro stuff please? 1950s? Those types of skirt are really complimentary to pear shapes.

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 31-May-12 18:11:43

Thanks to everyone who added their comments to this thread - House of Fraser found all your feedback really useful and we hope to see more about Mary on the site in future!

We've done the prize draw and are pleased to announce that the winner is...

KenNEddieKennedy

Congratulations! You've won a styling session with a personal shopper and £500 to spend at your nearest House of Fraser!

I'll PM you to get your details.

KenNEddieKennedy Fri 01-Jun-12 06:36:53

WHOO HOO!!!!!

Thank you SO much! This is completely fantastic!

OhNoMyFanjo Fri 01-Jun-12 06:53:08

We done ken grin

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