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Full Marks, bright sparks; M&S made their London Fashion Week debut yesterday in a timeless celebration of British design and craftsmanship. But are we ready to pay for the catwalk-worthy clothes?

Byline: Dinah Turner

IT IS a British high street institution but yesterday for the first time M&S mixed hemlines with designer labels to present at London Fashion Week.

Launching their Best of British Autumn/Winter collection at London's glamorous Somerset House, the 52-piece collection focuses on British design, keeping all manufacturing processes and fabric sourcing closer to home.

Celebrities including Alex Jones, Eliza Doolittle, Oliver Cheshire and Millie Macintosh turned out to show their support for a momentous occasion in the brand's history, and get a sneak peek of the collection.

Sharp tailoring, structured florals, statement coats, all teamed with this season's essential flat shoe, created a modern but timeless collection that combined heritage fabrics and pretty floral prints. It was a simple but exciting display that easily gave big name designers a run for their money.

Neil Hendy, head of design on the Best of British collection, said: "This spring our in-house design team have created a range which sees a new take on key shapes, with a reference to mod styling. Tailoring is slim cut with a masculine edge yet pretty pleat detailing and full skirt shapes add a feminine feel. We played with tonal blues and introduced vibrant post-it pinks for elevation."

And in a breath of fresh air, every item on show was made in the UK.

The design team, based in east London, sourced fabrics from British suppliers, including knitwear from Scotland, outerwear from Manchester and leathers from Northamptonshire. The bright sparks at Marks are doing what the store always did best, making British craftsmanship available to the consumer.

Style director Belinda Earl said: "We were honoured to share this prestigious platform and celebrate British design, craftsmanship and manufacturing. It's a significant milestone for Marks & Spencer and the evolution of our Best Of British collection."

And we couldn't agree more. This is big news for a high street fashion brand creating catwalk-worthy clothes for real people. But a Made in Britain tag comes at a cost - and whether we are willing to pay it remains to be seen.

The collection is available in August.

www.marksandspencer.com Eye-catching floral prints are big news for the season ahead and despite the PS199 price tag, this jacquard design is sure to fly off the rails. Teamed with a tailored ensemble, it's a strong look for Autumn 2014.

Floral jacket, PS199; white shirt, PS89, pleated skirt, PS79; white brogues, PS165 The relaxed chunky knit red jumper is great quality and timeless but we couldn't justify spending PS199 on such a simple piece. Equally, you can easily find a pair of basic cotton chinos on the high street for a fraction of the cost.

Red knit jumper, PS199; blue chinos, PS129; white brogues, PS165 This heritage check statement coat is the most expensive piece in the range but already a big hit with fashion editors and sure to sell out fast. The pin stripe suit, worn underneath, taps into the masculine tailoring trend but at PS498, that's a lot for a look that might not last the season.

Check coat PS299; pin stripe suit jacket, PS199, and matching trousers, PS129; blue satin shirt, PS99; white brogues, PS165 A warm wool coat is something worth investing in and this double breasted herringbone design will be a hit with the M&S customer. It's a piece that's built to last so well worth the price tag. Beige Herringbone coat, PS299, Black roll-neck, PS29.50, red skirt, PS99 This navy round neck knit and crisp white shirt create a great layered outfit. Worn long over the fashionable floral print mini-skirt, this is a young trend-led look from top quality, responsibly sourced fabrics. Navy wool jumper PS199, White shirt PS89; floral print skirt, PS79, This colour-popping jersey shift dress is one of the more affordable pieces in the collection and teamed with a black roll neck is simple, chic and easy to wear. A wardrobe essential, at a reasonable price-point and from a supplier and manufacturer in Hinckley, Leicestershire. Shift dress PS59, Polo neck PS29.50; white brogues, PS165 This ice-blue duffle coat is a winning piece in a strong collection. The attention to detail with deep oversized pockets and dramatic hood are more than you expect or see in your average high street store. It's certainly the most coveted item among the fashion crowd - Grazia have already declared it their must-have item. Blue duffle Coat PS299 Pops of red and the vintage-style floral print keep this look feminine in a somewhat androgynous collection. The classic black coat's PS349 price tag will be a shock for M&S regulars Floral Jacquard jacket PS199 & matching A-line Skirt PS79: black coat with dog tooth collar, PS349 Blue is the hottest colour coming off the catwalk for autumn/winter and this tailored coat makes a welcome change from the season's predictable colour palette. Again the price may seem high but price per wear it's not as painful as you first think.

Cobalt blue coat, PS299, black jumper, PS29, black tailored trousers, PS129, tote bag, PS350

'We were honoured to share this platform. It's a significant milestone for Marks & Spencer and the evolution of our Best of British collection'

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SHOW TIME Models backstage at the historic M&S presentation

FASHION FANS Millie Macintosh, Alex Jones and Eliza Doolittle
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 18, 2014
Words:884
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