Take eight inspiring UK women, one iconic fashion photographer and two quintessentially British backdrops. What do you get? The M&S spring/summer 2014 Leading Ladies advertising campaign. We joined Annie Leibovitz and the Leading Ladies – actress Emma Thompson, singer-songwriters Annie Lennox and Rita Ora, campaigner Baroness Lawrence, supermodel Alek Wek, chef Rachel Khoo, designer Lulu Kennedy and structural engineer Roma Agrawal – on location in coastal Camber Sands, East Sussex, and the idyllic Cotswolds countryside to capture those stolen behind-the-scenes moments and find out what the experience meant to them. This is what our Leading Ladies said...
ANNIE LENNOX: “This is the first campaign I’ve ever done – but who could resist being part of such a great line-up… What I’ve enjoyed about this shoot is the diversity... and everyone’s found an item that works for them.”
EMMA THOMPSON: “This has been a wonderful experience because it’s such a fascinating group; they’re all so different and they’ve all achieved so much… I think that there is something revolutionary about making an advert for women with actual women in it.”
RITA ORA: “I was so blessed [when I got the call from M&S about the campaign], because it was almost like a verification in my mind [that I’d become] a woman. The first
thing I did was [tell my mum]: ‘Mum, I’ve made it, I’m a lady!’”
BARONESS LAWRENCE: “Whenever I see adverts for Marks & Spencer, there’s always a big celebrity involved so I was a bit taken aback [when asked to do the campaign]. I said, ‘Really, you want to do a shoot with me?’ I was very honoured.”
ROMA AGRAWAL: “Annie Leibovitz is wiping mud off of my boots – that’s not something I expected to happen in my life!”
LULU KENNEDY: “When [M&S] called me I actually thought they were asking who I would like to put forward [for the campaign]. I was desperately trying to think who would be a good fit, and they were like, ‘No, we mean you’, and I was like, ‘Wow!’”
RACHEL KHOO: “It’s been quite a surreal experience. When I do food shoots, it’s like ‘bang’, it’s done, and this [shoot involved] big lights and 50 people running around on these walkie-talkies.”
ALEK WEK: “This was amazing. This was a celebration of women and of different generations. This is one of the gigs that I will never forget, and it’s so nice to work with a female photographer.”
EMMA THOMPSON "I always wore black when I was young because I was being militant, and wouldn’t carry a handbag. I carried everything in a plastic bag until I was 30!”
ANNIE LENNOX “Clothes matter... It’s important that I feel like myself and I think that’s what’s really nice about M&S.”
RITA ORA “When I’m on stage there are no rules... I can’t wait to look back and think, ‘I remember when I wore that, and I got away with it!’”
ALEK WEK “I think it’s important to mix new with established designers, and I always say style is what you make it.”
ROMA AGRAWAL “I love brightly coloured blouses and dresses, and a good pencil skirt. I’m a big fan of Audrey Hepburn’s style.”
LULU KENNEDY “I would say always try something new now and again, don’t get stuck in a rut and have fun with clothes. Surprise yourself!”
BARONESS LAWRENCE “Being in the public eye, I’m very conscious about how I dress as I have so many engagements to attend – and as a lady, you can never wear the same thing twice!”
RACHEL KHOO “I approach fashion in the same way that I do food. For me, it’s having fun, you can experiment – you have to find something which suits you.”
From shimmering metallics to graphic monochrome, our Leading Ladies have set the trends for summer.
SPARKLE AND SHINE
Take your cue from Alek Wek and add a statement necklace to this shimmering Limited Edition dress.
Beat the April showers with a statement cover-up, such as this Limited Edition version worn by Lulu Kennedy.