When super stylist Patricia Field of Sex And The City (SATC) fame announced she would be designing a collection for Marks & Spencer, there were surprised gasps.
Field, 66, is the American behind the outlandishly covetable outfits worn by Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda in the hugely popular TV series and movie.
British department store Marks & Spencer, on the other hand, has a straight-laced image.
The collaboration was unveiled at a fashion show at Marks & Spencer's new outlet in Great World City last Wednesday, as part of a simultaneous worldwide launch.
Critics of this unlikely pairing had to eat their words. Field, who also styled and designed the costumes for other hits like The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty, has put the spark into Marks & Sparks.
She owns an eponymous multi-label boutique in New York City's Bowery Street and also designs a clothing line called Patricia Field.
Her 35-piece collection for Marks & Spencer, 22 of which will be available only at the Paragon store from today, was an eclectic yet wearable mix, notable for its fine tailoring.
It included trendy chiffon cocktail dresses, fitted blazers and classic trench coats with a sexy leopard print lining, priced from a reasonable $120 to $390.
Field told Urban more about the collection she called Destination New York Style in an exclusive phone interview from London last Tuesday, where she was preparing for its launch there.
What made you decide to work with Marks & Spencer?
I wanted to be involved with a brand that appeals to women of all ages and I also wanted a partner who would work hand-in-hand with me to create a unique collection that reflected the brand and was relevant to its shoppers.
It was important to offer a collection with a good price and with good quality - and Marks & Spencer fitted the requirement.
How much was Carrie Bradshaw an inspiration for it?
Carrie was indeed an inspiration but besides SATC-inspired clothes, which make up about a third of this collection, the rest was what I would like to call my greatest hits collection.
These are pieces which David (Dalrymple, designer and her long-time collaborator) and I designed over the years.
My personal style comes through in every design where I have experimented with different fabrics such as silk and prints like polka dots, stripes and florals.
We wanted to use the SATC component in the collection because we knew women all over the world identified with the movie.
Which TV character would look great in your collection?
Some of these pieces, especially the glamorous ones, would work on Vanessa Williams' character Wilhelmina Slater in Ugly Betty.
I could see her in the sequinned jumpsuit or the black sequinned jacket. This collection definitely has a level of glamour, without being too theatrical.
Do you think women dress down too much these days?
Yes. It's ho-hum. Women need to have some attitude in their attire.
Say, you're wearing jeans and a T-shirt. If you put on a pair of silver stilettos, there's immediately some spice to your outfit.
What sets this collection apart from the other celebrity or designer tie-ups with retailers?
It's different in the sense that it's not one piece repeated in different colours. There are many hemlines, silhouettes, shapes and colours.
The idea is that you're going into someone's closet and you never know what you may find. Each piece is unique in that it is not a section of a fabric story or a seasonal collection.
Will you be designing any more collections for Marks & Spencer?
My collaboration is for a one-off collection for now, but who knows what the future holds?
|Dress with pleated skirt, $250, by Patricia Field for Marks & Spencer, 03-33 Paragon; made-to-order flower headpiece, price unavailable, from Frederick Lee, 2 Jalan Klapa; lace cuffs with satin ribbons, price unavailable, from Elita, Level 3 Takashimaya Department Store; red patent heels, $59, from Marks & Spencer; stockings, stylist's own
||Blue cocktail dress with chiffon sleeves, $290, by Patricia Field for Marks & Spencer; layered long pearl necklaces, $17 and $33, from River Island, 01-41 VivoCity; metallic clutch with crystal mesh, $990, from Stuart Weitzman, 02-12E Takashimaya Shopping Centre; strappy heels, model's own
||Black trenchcoat with leopard print lining, $390, by Patricia Field for Marks & Spencer; houndstooth print umbrella, $33, and black calf-length suede boots, $147, both from Marks & Spencer; three-piece gold bangle set, $28, and 10-piece gold bangle set, $28, both from River Island
|Striped satin jacket, $290, by Patricia Field for Marks & Spencer; sequinned beret, $43, and crystal ring with black and gold applique, $28, both from River Island; black skinny jeans, $120, from Marks & Spencer; strappy heels, model's own
||Black jersey dress with gold flower applique on shoulder, $350, by Patricia Field for Marks & Spencer; black disc clutch bag, $179, from Coast, 03-13 Paragon
This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times on Oct 24, 2008.