It's one of M&S's oldest brands. But can it seduce modern shoppers?

Is the new Per Una up to par?… It’s one of M&S’s oldest brands. But can its sharp new look seduce modern shoppers?

  • Fashion expert gives her verdict on M&S’s re-vamped Per Una brand
  • Jess Wood writes that the reformed brand has a younger aesthetic look and logo
  • And while it is rejuvenated Indigo and Limited Collection have been dumped 

Once upon a time, my mother used to rely on Marks & Spencer not only for her salmon en croute emergencies, but also for good old Per Una.

M&S’s beloved sub-brand always had easy, vaguely bohemian pieces for every occasion — middle-aged leisurewear, if you will. But now, Per Una has been given a drastic makeover, with a new, younger aesthetic and logo.

The headline news is that the High Street giant has scrapped two of its other brands, Indigo and Limited Collection, leaving Per Una as the star. Thank goodness for that — I, along with the rest of Britain, found the multiple labels confusing.

(Left), Knit, £39.50, and dress, £89, M&S; Boots, £149, Massimo Dutti, (centre), Coat, £129, jacket, £119, and blouse and culottes, £39.50 each, all M&S; Boots, £70, Dune London, (right), Top, £39.50, and trousers, £49.50, M&S; Shoes, £195, L.K.Bennett; Bag, £29.99, Zara; Jewellery throughout, Daphine

(Left), Jacket, £89, and trousers, £55, M&S; Shoes, £275, The Fold, (right), Jumper and culottes, both £39.50, top, £35, M&S; Boots, £450, L>K>Bennett; Scarf, £9.99, H&M

Now, womenswear has been streamlined into the main collection for basics; Autograph, which will focus on higher-priced classics such as leather coats and cashmere; and the ‘new’ Per Una. Its ad campaign stars model Lineisy Montero looking windswept and glamorous on a Dorset beach. So, what of the clothes? Fussy detail and frumpy shapes are out. Silhouettes are simple and more in tune with current trends, but without any whiff of the one-season wonder.

Instead, pieces are beautifully cut with a twist here and there to give some edge — a chunky oatmeal roll-neck with blouson sleeves, for example. Outerwear has always been one of M&S’s strengths and there are, of course, some fabulous coats, too.

In the past, M&S hasn’t shouted about the fact all its prints are designed in-house, but pattern is front and centre here. And there are some great statement pieces — a gold velvet trouser suit; a silky two-piece with contrasting hems — which echo the catwalks, but also offer the real-life comfort you’d expect from M&S. All hail the half-elasticated waistband . . .

(Left), Jumper, £45, and dress, £55, M&S; Boots, £179.99, Mango, (right), Coat, £119, jumper, £39.50, and skirt, £49.50, all M&S; Boots, £89.99, Zara 

M&S’s recent woes are well-known, with falling sales and fierce competition. But now, CEO Steve Rowe, who took over in 2016, is implementing a host of changes and has enlisted a dynamic duo — the store’s head of womenswear design Lisa Illis joined 18 months ago, having worked for the likes of Mulberry and Joseph, while Jill Stanton took up the role of womenswear and kidswear director for M&S last summer.

Judging by this collection, they could once again persuade us all to head to Marks’ for more than salmon en croute…

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