Any colour, as long as it’s pink

The Jewish Chronicle - - Life/fashion - BY JAN SHURE

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

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