This topic is for paid for discussions. Please mail us at insight@mumsnet.com if you'd like to know more about how they work.

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

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

We done ken grin

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

WHOO HOO!!!!!

Thank you SO much! This is completely fantastic!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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.

OhNoMyFanjo Wed 23-May-12 07:32:41

I have looked online (via my phone) and this caught my eye. I'm about to start a new job and this would be fab. Also really liked tge cropped black jacket and tge jeans looked really good too. Love tge smart fitted look that I'm looking for ATM. Not interested at all in the baggy, sloppy type tops/dresses. They do not look like they would flatter at all.

In the next collection I love like less pieces and more of Mary's style tgat has not been compromised. I just do not believe that these baggy sloppy things were for anything other than to enable bigger fans to buy a Mary P item. Don't sell out.

BikeRunSki Tue 22-May-12 22:25:54

I'm not wowed by the overall collection, but I do like the Siren dress. I like the colours in the collections, but not really the prints, and hate the saggy baggy dresses like Ray, No Brainer and Poseidon, Prices are high for what seems be mainly synthetic fabric too, and not a lot of trouser options for people who don't want to wear skinny drainpipe shapes. Seems like the collection can't decide whether to be teenage or mumsy, when I suspect it want to be neither.

lagoonhaze Tue 22-May-12 21:21:33

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?

Nothing really caught my attention which is just as well as nothing in my size!

~ 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?

Armery is appealing. Size range needs to be more inclusive

Went & had a look at these in Selfridges (?) or John Lewis, whichever in Oxford St & was Not Impressed. Overpriced. Horrible synthetic material. Looked awful on me - I'm 5.6" and a size 12/14 and they all looked as if they'd only look good on a Mary-type beanpole figure.

Agree with interregmum that Mary is fab but she's a beginner in the design business & it shows. Sorry.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Tue 22-May-12 17:17:53

I visited H0fF on a freezing Monday morning. The "express lift" to Maryland took me to the first floor and I then wandered for about 10 minutes with no idea where to find her (two floors further up, as it transpired). Several other middle-aged women were doing the same.

The most appealing item in the collection was by a mile the Siren dress. It was well-cut and classic and in a range of attractive colours - so classic, of course, that I already have about five versions thereof in my wardrobe and no need to buy another. I tried it on and it was very flattering, but women don't need that many classic dresses.

The only other thing that appealed was the armeries - when the time is right I'd return for one of those but on such a cold day, the prospect of ever wearing a sleeveless dress again seemed impossible. I liked the tights but they were around £10 a pair, so expensive.

Apart from that, I was disappointed. Garish prints everywhere, fabrics that were either silk (didn't want too much hassle to clean), or, I suspect, polyester - yuk . Far too much acid yellow, which gave me a headache. The "look" we were being encouraged to buy was a baggy, splodgy top, with belt, leggings and heels that just looked so painful they made my toes itch. Leather skirts, harem pants, printed leggings, jumpsuits, pussy-bow blouses - yuk, yuk, yuk. It all felt a bit middle-aged hen night or a bit Grazia trying to buy something horrible because Alexa Chung looks passable in it. We're not so easily fooled.

As others have said, having Mary so actively rammed down my throat in the form of the modeles backfired horribly. I'm not Samantha Brick, but I'm not totally hideous either. However, nor am I a cool, beanpole, sleek-bob type, nor am I a successful TV presenter, and the models simply rammed in that this will never be the case. I also felt slightly patronised by the idea that because Mary is funny and mouthy on telly I would want to "be" her, David Walliams is funny and mouthy and ... You see what I'm saying.

So ... in the next collection. Far fewer prints - leave them to Per Una, please. More comfortable-looking shoes. Lower prices (£80 for a swimming costume?). Less obvious worship at the Mary shrine, although I realise that may invalidate the entire point of the exercise.

Less of the - "The white shirt" stuff, , the shirts are pretty ordinary rather than being the item we've all been crying out for, and the white shirt in question is £70 - you could buy an equivalent one at Gap for half the price. Keep up the high quality (although this doesn't go brilliantly with lowering prices). More wearable shoes. A bit MORE jewellery, I only spotted a couple of pieces and I think, if well displayed, those pieces could show women how best to work an outfit.

Try to decide if you're about work wear or leisure, at the moment, it's leaning to the latter but with some boring-looking jumpers chucked in for mooching around on Saturdays, which just look dowdy. It certainly doesn't look like a collection aimed at mums - too high maintenance, which is why I'm surprised mnet is being asked for opinions.

Most of all, I'd say fewer pieces generally, the racks were cluttered and quite a few items were tucked away round the corner where I suspect they'll sit until Britain wins Eurovision (ie a long time). To continue with the Mary range you need to stay true to the spirit of Mary but that means channeling chic and sleek, in my opinion, not gobby and brash. I hope you can finesse it beause I like Mary and LOVE H of F (and while I was lost I discovered a few other gems, like the new Dickins and Jones line), and would love you to pull it off together.

lumbago Tue 22-May-12 16:09:36

Is this finished yet ?

interregmum Tue 22-May-12 12:18:49

~ 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 was slightly horrified. It was very boring without being chic. I don't think I'd buy any of it. Even the model's bum looks terrible in the 'Ray' dress. If someone had told me it was M and S, I'd have believed them.

~ 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?

I'd like her to employ a fashion designer and get her to stick to what she's good at - marketing!

ShatnersBassoon Tue 22-May-12 11:08:15

~ 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 really liked the red Siren dress. I like the colour and shape, and I could imagine wearing it.

~ 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 collection is appealing to me, as I could see lots of useful items that were more stylish than the regular staple items I would pick up in Dorothy Perkins or New Look. I loved the plain shirts and the Dolman jumper. I'm not so keen on the prints, and some of the tops looked a bit shapeless (floral print jersey tabard looked particularly drab and saggy) which isn't my personal style, and the shiny-looking fabrics appeared cheap.

I would like to see fewer 'statement' garments eg the leather pencil skirt and lurex top, and more focus on really useful, good value clothes eg things that cost a bit more than New Look but that you will get plenty of wear out of.

KenNEddieKennedy Tue 22-May-12 11:03:41

~ What's your favourite piece in the Collection?
The Swimwear looks nice, enough to hide my tum but £££.

Do you have more than one?
The Geo print blouse is lovely too, wide leg trousers with zip front looked nice.

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?
Being honest? It's not really my style so, no. The jewellery looked OK but it's quite similar in style to Primark, this isn't to diss Primark, I think their jewellery is fab, and the prices are far more realistic for something you might wear for one season.

~ What do you think is the most appealing thing about the Collection?
I should think the quality is good.

What would you like to see in Mary's next Collection?
Wide leg trousers (more of) I do not do skinnies, leggings etc.

Would you like to see her take on a different style all together?
She wouldn't be true to herself then!

Mary, I know you've taken your inspiration from you fav Greek island but some of your dresses are channeling Demis Roussos a little too much - I'm not big as such, (just the usual pouch after two children and getting on a bit now) but I'd look seven months pregnant if I wore many of those.

TheOtherHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 22-May-12 10:39:09

Hi all - thanks to all those who've posted on this thread so far. House of Fraser have asked us to post this message:

"Great feedback everybody! So far it seems that you love the structured dresses (in particular the Aurora), the super useful Armery and the extensive use of colour. Also popular are the chic and practical shoes. Keep the comments coming — you have until the 25th May to leave your thoughts and be in with a chance of winning £500 to spend at House of Fraser. Good luck!"

serendipity1980 Thu 17-May-12 16:41:10

There is not a lot I like in the collection - it looks like it is for older women (I'm 32). However, I was instantly drawn to the siren dress in red, it looks amazing. I am a wheelchair user and it is difficult to find clothes that fit well and flatter me, while still remaining comfortable and practical for me in my wheelchair or using my crutches. This dress did look like it would suit me. I do think the collection is rather expensive, but perhaps I'm simply not the target audience! I did also like the Coralia dress due to its simple lines, the contrasting coloured belt and the fitted look.

~ 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 LOVE the Pussy Bow Blouse - perfect for work or to wear with skinny jeans. I am seriously thinking of treating myself - I was drawn to the style of it and also the pattern - it is a perfect style to dress up or down but the pattern is bang on trend for this season. I had more than one favourite though (as always!), I also loved the Aurora dress - the colour is gorgeous and it is also a classy looking dress that looks easy to wear and comfortable. Some of the jumpers were nice too, especially the oversized modern knit jumper - its also in the sale smile

~ 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?

I think the most appealing thing about the collection is that is is varied - there are some everyday items in there that you could wear but also a lovely mixture of nicer dressy clothes and clothes suitable for work. I don't think she should take on a different style at all, I think it is all very modern and well thought out. I would love to see more shoes and boots in the collection.

BigBadBear Tue 15-May-12 12:20:03

I have a HoF nearby (Croydon) but it doesn't carry this range so I looked online.

What's your favourite piece in the Collection?

The aurora dress

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 like the fact that it feels a bit more grown up than some other ranges. The styles and prints look eminently wearable, and it's nice to see some black as many ranges seem to have steered so clear of it that it can be difficult to find. But it's expensive! I don't like the armery at all (sorry), I can't see why you wouldn't just wear a long sleeved top underneath or a shrug on top.

What do you think is the most appealing thing about the Collection?

I think the personal shopping offer with the collection is really appealing. I can see it working really well, and it being more focused than doing personal shopping with a whole department store at your disposal.

What would you like to see in Mary's next Collection?

Could it be a little bit cheaper please?

Would you like to see her take on a different style all together?

I think she should keep doing what she's doing, as she's really good at it.

Fillybuster Tue 15-May-12 11:50:07

I made a detour into the HoF a couple of weeks ago specifically to check out the MP collection. I think she's great on tv, love her personal style and was very interested to see what she had designed for HoF.

I'm afraid I was rather disappointed. Although the MP-clone mannequins are eye-catching, I found them rather off-putting as a starting point. Just because I like MP's style doesn't mean I want to look exactly like her. And unfortunately the impression the mannequins give is that unless you look exactly like MP, you won't be able to deliver the necessary style and oomph for the clothes.

Even more unfortunately, away from the sharply cut wigs and super-skinny plastic models, I found the clothes extremely frumpy. Great patterns, but the fabric quality wasn't brilliant and all the lengths/styles basically screamed "how to look like a woman in your 60's".

To be fair, if I was in my 50s/60+ I would probably be delighted as I suspect there is a dearth of nice made, funky-ish clothes for this market (although, again, the material could be better).

But as a mum in my 30s, I really don't want to look any older and more frumpy than I do when dressed by TopShop, John Lewis and Wallis.....smile

tbh8169 Tue 15-May-12 10:56:50

I do not have HOF near me , so had a look online, as well as watching the series of Mary setting up her fashion range which was very good.
I like Mary portas , her sense of style and ballsy attitude, however the new range is rather diappointing and safe. None of it appeals to me as a mum of 4, early 40's, with an interest in fashion . I tend to buy clothes from individual boutiques in brighton and Hove, or Boden.
I just found the clothes very boring , expensive, and lacked the style I would associate with mary Portas.
sorry , giving an honest opinion, which I assume she wants?I am not an M&s ,dept store or Next customer, which maybe is more her target market?

fallingandlaughing Mon 14-May-12 22:39:38

I have duly visited my local House of Fraser store and had a nosey around online. It was pretty hard to get to see the collection instore as I had my daughter with me in a pram - I needed help from some lovely Pied a Terre staff to get the pram up the steep flight of steps to the "Mary" store area. The Mary collection staff were harder to spot. No-one said "Hello" to me or offered any help.

Looking round the store it was hard to imagine myself in the clothes. I think this is because they were presented on Marybots - lots of mannequins with Mary Portas wigs. They instantly made me picture Mary Portas wearing the clothes, which made it harder to picture myself in them. It was much easier to look at them online, the pared down presentation made it easier to imagine wearing some of the pieces.

There is lots to like - the simple shapes and bold prints in particular. I really like the Anemone dress, The Geo Print blouse and the Dolman sleeve top. I have just spotted the black pleat blouse and think it's simplicity with a twist really refelcts the best of the collection. I was also really drawn to some of the formal trousers. They seemed really well cut and had a nice weight to them. Unfortunately they also seemed really short. This is probably a good thing for most cutomers but I am tall and was hoping Mary (who also seems tall) would cater for me too. Still there are a lot of nice dresses and they looked to sit on the knee, which is a nice change. A lot of shops have "grown-up" dresses in teenager lengths in my recent experience.... Or have I just realised that I have outgrown Topshop??

I was most surprised to have had my attention drawn by the Armery items... Tights for legs? Sounds crazy but I think there is a huge market for this. Someone missed a trick not coming up with this on Dragon's Den years ago. I think I will buy some for my Mum and may well try them out myself. N.B. My Mum is always complaining about the surfeit of short sleeves on the market, I'm no trying to force her to cover up!

The most appealing aspect of the collection is the bold shapes, quality of finish and generous cuts. I feel it is really important that these are not lost. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the number of items, some quite similar. It would actually be easier to choose something to buy if the collection was 20% smaller. I was reminded of the Psychology experiment that found people are more likely to buy jam when choosing from four brands than when choosing from twenty... I had selected some things to try on and then gave up because it seemed like a faff.

It must be really hard to launch a collection under such high levels of scrutiny... I guess most designers start small then build up and so they can test what works for them on a smaller scale. I think Mary needs to shed the safe choices (if I saw one more bright jewel tunic I would have sworn I was in a Miami retirement community bingo hall) and push forward with the more interesting shapes which really stand out as refreshing and different. There is a real gap in the market for "grown-up" clothing and with a few cuts and tweaks this collection could fill it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now