Paul Weller cuts a lithe figure in a black crew neck sweater and dove grey slacks that ride a couple of inches off the ground. His round-toed calfskin Chelsea boots gleam under the lights. A flashgun snaps at his every move as his gimlet eye rakes the clothes rack that lines the far wall of the West End showroom.
Marks and Spencer is fast becoming - if not already become - the fashion industry's favourite whipping boy/girl. Watch the claws come out around its second Leading Ladies campaign, as columnists furiously tap away their thoughts about why it sucks, what it did wrong and what M&S needs to do to be successful. But seriously, it's getting a bit tiring.
I hate phrases like wedding diet and bikini fit, because they imply a burst of discipline and stricture that just isn't sustainable after the event takes place. Worse, you may find that it doesn't give you the results you wanted. So this is a short guide to what worked for me, and what has sustained.
Last spring saw one the release of the most perfect fashion collections in recent memory, from Alexander McQueen. Based around bees and women as worker bees, this fantastically visual theme was cross-pollinated with the brand's dark romance. Immaculate construction ensured each elegant look was executed in the most high fashion way.
The skinny models don't make me feel bad about myself (and, to be clear, that's not because I'm in any way model-esque. Picture the average woman. That's me). Nor do the "real" models make me feel good. When it comes to magazines like Vogue, I want to see something beautiful - something magical. I value the escapism these publications offer...
Everyone on this planet has a childhood story about low self-esteem and we often don't realise how damaging they can be in later life. Even the great and the good like Jen Lawrence, Jessie J and Rebecca Adlington have all come out saying they had troubled teen years. Low self-esteem is a major cause of eating disorders, depression, anxiety and addictions.
History is imperative for fashion. Trends form trends that, in this case, started as a way of life. But the main reason I sat down to write this article was to explore the demand for certain prints over others. Fashion has explored only a small selection of prints over the years, and even then many repeat season after season.
Both Alexa and I are so inspired by our 60's girl crushes and eye looks so it was lovely to see Pat McGrath updating the decade for Dolce Gabbana, Versace and Gucci in Milan. McGrath referenced Sophia Loren for the make-up at Dolce & Gabbana, "it's all about the brow, lashes and liner," she cried echoing my own personal mantra!
Business is strongest is when it's face-to-face with customers and the beautiful products can be displayed physically in an alluring way. I regularly tell retailers who moan about the web to work out how to compete effectively instead. Innovators in top up grocery shopping, web purchase collection and so on, understand that the future is omni-channel and are making money. Grenson shows us how a perfect customer experience makes people feel special and gets them buying. And everybody please remember, you can't get your hair done, grab a quick drink when you fancy it, have your shoes mended, collect your prescription or dry cleaning quickly on the web (yet).
Fictional American universities, generic sports teams, and punk bands that thrived three generations ago; these are the sort of things that should be on teenagers' t-shirts. So when fashion retailers try to elevate off-the-shelf edginess to silly new levels, you suddenly remember that it's idiotic adults who are in charge.
How to dress normcore, let me break it down: no-name, unflattering, comfortable jeans, boring unfashionable warm jacket, plain tee, plain white socks, trainers, etc. If you've mastered the look, it should be hard to tell from behind if you are a 50-something executive or just taking a break from backpacking in Nepal.