Fashion: Marks in time

Limited Edition cardigan, �59; dress, �49.50; boots, �99.
Limited Edition cardigan, �59; dress, �49.50; boots, �99.
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As M&S reports improved clothing sales, Stephanie Smith gives her verdict on its new range for autumn.

It’s nearly here. This Thursday sees the eagerly anticipated official launch of THE skirt – the most talked-about fashion piece of the year, a tan suede 1970s-inspired skirt from Marks & Spencer, costing £199.

Dubbed the M&S “It” skirt, it began to trend on blogs and fashion pages back in February, after being photographed on model Alexa Chung and American socialite Olivia Palermo. More than 3,500 shoppers registered an interest, and it had a mini preview release a month ago. Now M&S is bringing in five times the quantity it originally planned. Whether or not that means all those who want it will be to get hold of on Thursday, we’ll have to wait and see.

So, what else does M&S have in store for its increasingly fashion-hungry fans and customers? Last week in London, the retail giant presented its all-important autumn/winter ‘15 fashion collections to the press and I went along for a first glimpse of all the collections that will launch in September.

What we were all looking for, of course, was the next ‘It’ piece. Now, where was it?

The main contender was probably, most agreed, a striking coral and cream leopard-print double-breasted Per Una Speziale coat (£159), which featured in a story called Modern Muse, a retro-meets-contemporary theme, animal prints teaming with pared-back lines and blocks of saturated, strong colour. The rather cool snake print pencil skirt (£69) is set to be another lust-after piece.

Elegant Bohemia is a continuation of the ultra-wearable boho story that the M&S customer obviously loves so much. It featured a boho crafted printed smock dress (£49.50) to wear with knee-high Seventies style boots (£99) – the boots in particular were singled out as a key must-have.

Then there was story called Softly Structured, which did what it said on the tin, with fluid, gently billowing lines (for example, a cream lace smock dress) mixing in with relaxed tailoring, seen in a berry coloured waterfall collar long wool jacket and sage-coloured, wide-leg, high-waist, wool tailored trousers.

The Entwined collection was all about the knitwear, including luxurious ribbed and cable cream and grey knitted dresses to layer up with long matching cardigans and scarves.

The sultry evening wear Noir story gave us sleek velvet, dramatic lace and rich glinting metallic glitter and shine, including a fabulous sequin bomber (£89) – this will also be much sought-after.

My favourite autumn piece is a Twiggy collection pilgrim-style navy button-through dress (£59) – understated edgy elegance, if ever I saw it.

Clothing sales at M&S last month reported their first rise in four years. It’s encouraging news and, with this wearable but bold and statement-like collection for autumn, M&S deserves to do well again.

Scott Hufton from Owen Scott models the suit

The Huddersfield cloth used to make Conor McGregor's controversial suit