Archive by Alexa is the latest collaboration between M&S and style icon Alexa Chung. It’s inspired by the M&S archives, which lends itself to scepticism, but it seems to be a match made in heaven.
Alexa has done a number of collaborations over the past few years, and they have become somewhat predictable – it’s sensible and wearable, and there is always at least one pale-blue button up shirt. This blue has become something of a calling card – even her collaboration a few years ago with Nails Inc. featured the same shade of blue, in a wearable and undefeatable nail varnish. A lot of the pieces in the collaboration stay true to type – along with the blue shirt, there are sensible flats, and some wearable and sensible neutrals.
Nevertheless, it keeps just shy of being predictable – clearly saved by the M&S archive element. There are some pieces that are interesting and surprising. The Harper dress is particularly out-there: it’s both stunning and largely unwearable. There are a number of pieces that are pretty unusual – from vinyl to fur, to floor length kimonos.
But, all that variety means that this collection doesn’t feel like a collection – there is too much going on and it doesn’t quite piece together. It’s more like a glimpse into a fashionista’s wardrobe – a selection of great pieces, randomly plucked from different trends and seasons, which don’t necessarily have any connection to one another.
Overall, there are some really lovely pieces, and because of the random variety, there’s something for everyone. However, we’ve lost the trademark Alexa ‘wearability’, and the collection is fairly mediocre at times. It stays true to almost all of last year’s trends, but not many from this season. It’s not a disaster, but it doesn’t live up to what we expect from either party involved.