Lulu Kennedy Brings Her Fashion Cred to Marks & Spencer

The British designer and founder of Fashion East designed a collection for the high street retailer inspired by Tulum.
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The British designer and founder of Fashion East designed a collection for the high street retailer inspired by Tulum.
Lulu Kennedy for Indigo Collection. Photo: Marks & Spencer

Lulu Kennedy for Indigo Collection. Photo: Marks & Spencer

The title of "fashion’s fairy godmother", affectionately given to Fashion East founder Lulu Kennedy, was cute at first, but now it is getting a bit tedious. After all, would anyone dare to compare retail titans like Andrew Rosen or Silas Chou to winged Disney-esque creatures spreading fairy dust? She may not yet have billions, but her influence is undeniable. Among the many designers she has "discovered" through her incubation scheme that is Fashion East are Roksanda Ilincic, Meadham Kirchhoff, Richard Nicoll, Holly Fulton, Jonathan Saunders, House of Holland, Gareth Pugh, Marios Schwab and Louise Goldin. And with MAN, her co-venture with Phillip Green’s Topman, she has jollied along the likes of JW Anderson and James Long.

Kennedy (who is also an MBE, given to her by Queen Elizabeth for her contribution to fashion) is also is the brains and talent behind Lulu & Co, a line that is stocked by the likes of Net-A-Porter and MatchesFashion.com. As if that all wasn't enough, she's now bringing her fashion cred and cool aesthetic to high street retail giant Marks and Spencer with “Lulu Kennedy for Indigo Collection.” Launching officially on the M&S site May 14, the 19-piece collection is moderately priced (ranging from £15 to £75) and hits all the right commercial notes, and then some. The boyfriend jean, bracelet and fringed jacket are already on our wish-list.

Kennedy tells Fashionista that her starting point was a light and breezy aesthetic inspired by Tulum, Mexico (a big conversation topic lately), and that it had to be able to stand on its own.

“This new collection is different to Lulu & Co in that Indigo is such a small capsule, it has to be really tightly edited. It’s also more feminine, as the Indigo customer is less of a tomboy than my usual style – I’ve enjoyed exploring my girlier side! I made a mood board for the M&S design team and brought in some vintage pieces and we went from there -- they were into it and we worked well co-designing together.”

This is not the first time Kennedy has worked with Marks and Spencer: She appeared in the brand's Annie Leibowitz-lensed spring 2014 campaign, “Leading Ladies,” alongside an eclectic group of models including campaigner Doreen Lawrence, engineer Roma Agrawal, Alek Wek and Rita Ora. “Annie was everything you could hope for and more -- such a huge, generous character," Kennedy said of the experience.

Given Kennedy’s uncanny ability to predict a sartorial hit, odds are that she will help Marks and Spencer continue to move away from its current, hard-to-shake reputation as slightly “home counties” (translated loosely from Brit speak to America slang, that would be “bridge and tunnel” with an emphasis on countryside, not suburbs). The most notable collaborator to help M&S out of that somewhat unfair reputation was Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who has been working with M&S for years now: her white-hot range of intimates is the company’s best-selling lingerie line of all time.

Like RHW, Kennedy has injected some of her personal style into the brand, as she explains: “I think my bohemian aesthetic works well with Indigo, I kind of embody it. I grew up between Ibiza, Sicily and the Devon countryside, so I think I bring a bit of that vibe to M&S. I don’t think my capsule looks immediately ‘London.’ It's more global girl chilling.”

And here is the good news: the Marks and Spencer website tells us it ships clothes internationally, so stateside fans can grab it while the getting is good.