Jaeger tries to throw off its Mrs T image

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The Independent Online

A new and improved streamlined logo, an in-store revamp by the supremely fashionable architect David Collins and the services of much-loved British designer Bella Freud. They have all been invoked to revitalise the flagging fortunes of fashion house Jaeger.

Now the label has launched its biggest advertising campaign in 20 years, a glossy affair shot by über-photographer Nathaniel Goldberg and featuring England's most famous model rose, Trish Goff. The advertisements, which will appear in magazines like Vogue and Marie Claire, are designed to encourage the under-45s to come to Jaeger.

It's no secret that for years now, the store which, during the Eighties, was cited as Margaret Thatcher's favourite, was in dire need of an image overhaul. As celebrity endorsements go, she's hardly right up there with, well, with Grace Kelly, and although consumers may rightly have continued to see Jaeger as purveyors of high-quality, quintessentially British clothing, competition was fierce and the young proceeded to run a mile. A string of management changes in the latter Nineties only added to any bad fortune.

However, the appointment of Pat Burnett, the respected retailer behind the rejuvenation of the Wallis chain, as chief executive of Jaeger and Coats Viyella, its parent company, in May 2000 brought about a new stability. This, coupled with the launch of Jaeger's press campaign and the unveiling of the label's autumn/winter collection, could bring about the boost it so badly needs.

Freud herself is, in fact, only designing a small collection to run alongside the main line – it will go into about 20 flagship stores next month. Coquettish black crêpe dresses with plunging necklines, skinny sweaters and saucy skirts all boast her sexy secretary signature. Not that the designer is ignoring Jaeger's heritage: her "Juliette Greco resistance coat", for example, was inspired, she says, by a Jaeger original. The quality of the design in the larger collection is more surprising still. While offering the basics that will no doubt keep the older customer happy, cute curvy tailoring, camel knits with camels on the front – similarly a witty nod to the Jaeger archive – and classic coats that retail at a very reasonable £300 also all indicate a return to form in style.

This can, of course, only be a good thing. Jaeger, after all, has a history which spans more than 125 years. It would be a great shame to see such an auspicious British institution lose its way for good.

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