Any colour, as long as it’s pink
LAST YEAR, Marks & Spencer produced a rather sassy day dress. Given wide exposure as part of its mega-expensive advertising campaign, it was a garment that was designed to appeal across several demanding fashion demographics, and was more than usually desirable by presentday M&S standards.
What was so interesting about the dress is that it was poppy red. Not just
seen in poppy red in its ad campaign, but made only in red. So that, if perhaps you considered your size 14 silhouette too big for neck-to-knee red, or you had colouring and complexion for which this particular shade of red did nothing, or you merely rejected the notion of wearing an entire dress in a colour so eye-poppingly bright, you were stuffed.
At the very top end of the fashion business, it has forever been the preserve of the couturier to tell the client in what colour she should wear a particular gar-- ment. Colour is at the heart of a fashion collection, and colour is part of the designer’s “vision”. But gradually, over several decades, the same reduction of consumer choice — handed down as a diktat from the designer — found its way into ready-to-wear and diffusion ranges. That fabulous pair of trousers which you might want in grey or black are only available in chocolate; the sublime raincoat which you would love in grey is made only in purple. Don’t like that colour? Well, clearly, you don’t know your Ghesquiere from your Gucci, so please take your credit card elsewhere.
If you have studied the UK fashion industry for the last 30 years, you can trace the high street’s mono-colour trail back to George Davies. The man who founded fashion chain Next — and this month gave us GIVe — he was probably the first person on the high street to offer entire ranges of garments in a single colour or colourway. When he left Next in 1989, he launched his George clothing line for Asda, adopting the same colour policy.
Interestingly, among his senior staff at Asda — which he quit in 2000 after it was
Marks & Spencer coat, £79. In hot pink… and only hot pink
“Catwalk” dress ( left), £175, only in navy; grey sequin bow dress, £150, only in grey. Both from the Marks & Spencer Speziale collection