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LONDON — Marks & Spencer is putting major muscle behind its new-look fall collections. The retailer hired Annie Leibovitz to shoot a campaign and recruited a group of famous faces, including Helen Mirren, Tracey Emin, retired ballet principal Darcey Bussell, Ellie Goulding, Olympic gold-winning boxer Nicola Adams, Grace Coddington and Karen Elson, among others.
The ads, which break on Sept. 3, come with the strapline, “Meet Britain’s Leading Ladies” and show the women against four quintessentially British backdrops. For example, a selection of coats is shown off by 10 of the campaign stars on a boat on the Thames, with Tower Bridge in the background, while Elson cuddles a lamb in a bucolic scene, surrounded by seven co-models for M&S’ Per Una collection.
Other lesser-known women appearing in the adverts include Helen Allen, voted “nurse of the year” by the British Journal of Nursing in 2011; Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of Save the Children International; and burns survivor Katie Piper.
“We wanted this campaign to signal a new and confident tone of voice,” Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, executive director marketing and business development at M&S, said in a statement. “Annie was the perfect choice to shoot a campaign of this magnitude. Her unmistakable, signature style, with its truly dramatic aesthetic was exactly what we needed to communicate the essence of the campaign and of the new M&S. Annie’s photography has become synonymous with defining key moments in the history of brands over the years and, as such, we feel that this campaign is the ideal way to illustrate M&S’ move into a new era.”
As part of chief executive Marc Bolland’s strategic plan for the retailer, M&S has been trying to revive its flagging apparel sales with a new design team in place led by Frances Russell, director of women’s wear. A new direction for the collections was revealed to press and investors in May, with mixed reactions.