w&h Visits Mary Portas' New Shop

by Angela Kennedy on Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Straight talking, super stylish Mary Portas has put her money where her mouth is and opened her own shop in House of Fraser aimed at "real, grown up women" - just in case you have not already heard!

Known for her ruthless criticism of most high street shops, it will be interesting to see how Mary's Pret a Portas idea develops.

I'm just back from a peek at the Queen of Shops' brainchild in Oxford Street and freely acknowledge it was great FUN! From the orange lift that whisks you to the third floor, to the bell boy that meets and greets, the ebulliently enthusiastic staff, the coffee on offer, the eclectic gift ideas Mary has fallen in love with - this shop is everything Mary has told us a high street store should be.

But what about the clothes? Do they pass muster for the woman who says the high street does not cater for the 40 plus women?

For me its Mary's clever marketing that works. I like her edited choice of labels that we all love like MaxMara, and Bastyn. Her own collection, designed with a little help from Antonio Berardi, is Mary from top to toe - and if you love the way she dresses, you will like the collection.

There's the no-brainer dress, lots of big shirts and lots of skinny pants. But some of the prices may make you wince for what sells itself as high street. I spied a fabulous snake printed bow blouse at £150, but might prefer a slightly better quality one at Jaeger for virtually the same price.

The shoe and undie collaborations with British heritage brands Playtex and Clarks are good and well priced, as are the fabulous scarves; all in exciting and exclusive prints by recent graduates.

The concept is fun and the fitting rooms are fabulous thanks to their dimmer lighting. She wanted it to be a bit like Colette in Paris and I think she has captured a smidgeon of that charm, albeit in a department store setting.

And in Mary speak - was I being served? Yes, with so much enthusiasm that the staff deserve a bonus! Did I buy? No - but if I had a stuffed purse I would definitely splash out on the MaxMara coat!

Visit houseoffraser.co.uk/maryportas to see the collection

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