So, you know how we feel about celebrity ‘designers‘.
When M&S invited us along to meet Twiggy and see her new collection (launched 12th April on line) we were sceptical, expecting the usual famous face at the front of a range designed by some poor back room team who got no glory for all their hard work.
However, after giving her a thorough grilling, it appears that not only can Twiggy sew and knit herself, she appears to have been hands on in the evolution of the range. When we quizzed her about her involvement was she told us very firmly ” Total! Can’t you tell? I’m ever so bossy and said to Neil (Hendy, head of womenswear design for M&S) Just try doing it without me!’
And do you know what? We think she probably did do a lot, she took us through the collection like a seasoned buying director, pointing out fit and cut details like a pro, mentioning the ‘dry’ handle of the viscose crepe and the trim details on the skinny jeans. She also made sure we’d noticed the cute embroidered Twiggy brand labels and engraved buttons and that the jackets were cut with a strong 40s influences, her own vintage decade of choice. She handled the clothes like she knew them, always a big give away with ‘celeb’ designers who often look at the clothes like they’re surprised to see them, and she’s been with the brand a long time, so she knows the customer profile.
The reason for this competence is that before Twiggy was discovered as a model, she was planning to go to art school and become a dress designer. “My mum taught me to sew” she told us, “in those days everyone did and she had three girls so we’re all really good sewers especially my middle sister and me, I was obsessed, I had a knitting machine in the 70s and I was living half in London, half in Los Angeles so I used to carry it on the plane, can you imagine today? All that metal!”
She knitted everyone she knew sweaters on her machine, claiming a plain sweater could be knocked up in two hours and she and Jane shared horror stories of how nearly finished jumpers could be completely ruined by falling off the machine right at the last. “I joked with Neil last week ‘ she said “if we run out of machinists before the launch I can always step in. I did that once on a modelling job, someone had forgotten to finish the trousers from the fitting, so we found a machine and I sewed them up. For me sewing’s more than just making clothes, I get a great joy from it, my idea of heaven is to find a great fabric shop.”
Has anyone inspired her for the M&S range, which she firmly tells us is for 18 to 80 years olds? “The greatest inspiration in my fashion life is Barbara Hulanicki, (founder of Biba) without her you wouldn’t have the H&Ms and Topshops.”
By now we were quite warming to her, not only did she know her fit-and-flare from her bias-cut but she had good taste in designers. We asked her to walk us through her favourite designs on the rail. “I’m never going to take this off” she says about her first choice, the silver sequined jacket, ‘the fit is very 40s. She was wearing our favourite item in the range, the side trimmed skinny jeans, “I’m obsessed with them, they are so comfy”. She also picked the oversized cardigan with a light lurex sparkle, the print dress and the white jacket ‘That fabric is gorgeous, it’s a silk linen” she said. We hovered over the rail of autumn winter styles too, which had touches of bright colour and silk velvet trims on great looking tweed coats, but it’s a little early to be talking next winter.
For our Twitter followers who sent in questions..
Yes, she has skinny calves, they look very sleek in the jeans.
She doesn’t appear to have had any work done and still looks beautiful. She has a fairly relaxed view about others getting work done “If it makes them feel happy, go for it, but you wont catch me filling my face with poison, where does it end up?” .
On photoshop she states people have always retouched photos and they always will.
She seems perfectly happy on being an icon, I suspect she is pretty bossy and opinionated in real life, a bit like Jane and I really. although we haven’t got the bone structure.
There were undoubtably many trained designers behind the Twiggy collaboration, who helped get the range ready to launch, not least the lovely Neil Hendy, who’d been steering the M&S womenswear range for a long while, but it was good to see that Twiggy really appeared to love her role and the range. So how long is this collaboration going to go on for then, we ask her as a parting question…”Forever I hope!” she said, looking right at home.
The skinny jeans. £29.50 are great, the black trim down the side seams are a neat detail and the cut is high waisted, in soft stretch dark navy denim. The pointelle cardi above if £45.
The animal print dress, £39.50 has drape-front detail and looks like it would be a nice fit. The two jackets, both £79.00 below would be excellent additions to a wardrobe, smart and stylish.
Twiggy’s range will be available online only, from April 12. Prices range from £12.50 for a T shirt to £79.00 for the sequin jacket.