Fashion: Less is more

Chunky polo knit, �80; sequin camisole in cream, �120; silk navy slip dress, �90.
Chunky polo knit, �80; sequin camisole in cream, �120; silk navy slip dress, �90.
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As we anticipate the opening of John Lewis Leeds, Stephanie Smith takes a look at the store’s first ever luxury ready-to-wear range.

No matter how many swanky department stores a city has, there can be no doubt that the addition of a John Lewis will always bring class, style and the feeling that, finally, we have everything we could ever need or want.

John Lewis will open to complete Leeds shopping heaven on October 20, but before this, there is another important JL first to be marked.

This week sees the launch of Modern Rarity, the store’s first ever luxury, ready-to-wear label. With it, John Lewis aims to redefine luxury for the modern woman, offering a shift from disposable, fast fashion towards an ethos of fewer, better quality pieces.

Wardrobe staples featuring understated silhouettes in luxurious fabrics bring an effortless, contemporary look of high-end quality and design, but at more affordable prices than designer labels set.

Modern Rarity has been designed and created in-house by Jo Bennett, head of buying, alongside Iain Ewing, head of design, who have together considered every cut, fabric, silhouette and texture of this impressive 90-piece collection.

Every season the label aims to offer easy pieces that work together, taking a fresh look at wardrobe staples, as well as nodding to the catwalk trends. They are non-prescriptive, so designed to be worn in many different ways, for a fluid style the wearer can make her own.

The autumn/winter ‘16 collection features pared-back tailoring, luxurious knitwear and outerwear in a colour palette of soft and sensual muted and blush tones. Materials include Italian spun cashmere and heavy-weight sandwashed silks, all designed to last.

To add to the individual spirit of the label, guest designers will collaborate and give their own twist for each season, creating limited edition, rare finds.

For launch, Central Saint Martin’s trained shirt designers Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding have designed five contemporary white shirts, priced from £100 to £150, featuring the duo’s trademark innovative cutting and draping techniques along with internal belting, with the focus on structure, volume and silhouette.

“To shape the Modern Rarity label, we set off with a mantra of ‘fewer, better pieces’, with the knowledge that our customers are wanting quality pieces that have design substance,” says Jo Bennett.

“We wanted to create a brand that could cater for everyday modern classics in a luxe way – pieces that are thoughtful, beautifully designed and crafted with care. I want our customers to feel that they are investing in a collection that celebrates and helps them to continue to build their own style.”

Key pieces to look out for include fluid, wide-leg, herringbone trousers, £120, which add relaxed tailoring, flatteringly cut to sit just below the waist, with concealed fastenings for a smooth line. The funnel neck sweater in blush, £75, is spun with touches of mohair and wool with an easy oversized fit. Statement pieces include skirts and camisoles, £120 each, embellished with iridescent sequins, available in both gold and ivory.

The coatigan, £100, is available in three colours, ivory, smoky grey and cornflower blue, and is a must-have transitional staple to wear between seasons. Crafted in Italy from boiled wool, lightweight yet warm with a relaxed fit and open waterfall front, for an effortless, layered luxe look. The trench coat is a key outerwear piece for the season, a military style full-length style in a rich camel coloured cashmere, £550.

The Modern Rarity collection is available in all John Lewis shops and online at from September 8. Prices will range from £50 for a sweater to £900 for a shearling coat.